Florida A&M unloads on Morgan State, 59-32 McGirt throws for 404 yards, career high, for 1-7 Bears

November 01, 1998|By Michael Wallace | Michael Wallace,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It was all too familiar.

For the seventh time in eight games, Morgan State self-destructed during critical moments, turning the ball over five times in a 59-32 loss to Florida A&M last night.

The setback spoiled Morgan State's attempt to win back-to-back Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games for the first time since the 1994 season. The Bears have lost 10 of their last 11 games dating to last season.

But the team used a combination of zone and man coverages to slow Florida A&M's offense early and got a career-high 404 passing yards from quarterback Willie McGirt.

"We gave it our best shot. But all we can do now is try to keep getting better," said McGirt, who completed 29 of 58 passes, with a touchdown and an interception.

The quarterback was able to find freshman receiver Marc Lester 11 times for 243 yards and a touchdown. Lester was able to get behind FAMU's man-to-man defense.

But Morgan committed four second-half turnovers and trailed 32-7 at the half. It never threatened after the intermission.

"From a college standpoint, I thought we were better than every team we played except FAMU," said Morgan coach Stump Mitchell. "My guys just didn't believe in themselves in the second half."

The win was Florida A&M's seventh in a row and keeps the team in second place in the MEAC.

FAMU (7-1, 5-1) was able to turn the Bears inside out and forced the league's best rushing team to throw the football. That defensive pressure led to five turnovers and a season-low 38 rushing yards, which is nearly 200 below Morgan State's average.

Morgan (1-7, 1-5) played one quarter of near-perfect football. The team opened the game with a 9-yard pass from McGirt to Lester. That play set up a first down, but Morgan was pushed back on its next series and was forced to punt.

FAMU scored its first touchdown when quarterback Pat Bonner drove the team 80 yards before Baltimore native Kenny Williams (Lake Clifton) ran in from 4 yards out.

The lead was 18-0 before the Bears responded with an 80-yard drive of their own, capped off by McGirt's 7-yard scramble for a touchdown.

"They were able to take our option away from us and forced us to pass the ball," said Morgan tailback Jay Hinton, who had 38 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Down 32-7 at the break, the Bears tried to rally as Wakeem Davis picked off a Bonner pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown to close the lead to 32-13.

Florida A&M then scored 27 unanswered points to take a 59-13 lead into the fourth quarter.

Morgan did all the scoring in the fourth quarter, on Hinton's 1-yard run, strong safety Warner Herndon's 41-yard interception return and Lester's 15-yard reception, but it was too late.

(Summary, 10E)

Next for Morgan

Opponent: Samford

Site: Seibert Stadium, Birmingham, Ala.

When: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Record: 4-4

Yesterday: Beat Mars Hill, 20-12

Pub Date: 11/01/98

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