Untimely errors thwart Morgan Bears commit 10 penalties in 13-12 loss to Samford

November 08, 1998|By Susan Storey | Susan Storey,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- It didn't seem to matter to Morgan State coach Stump Mitchell that his team had just outgained Samford by 132 total net yards.

What interested -- or rather, irritated -- him most was another set of statistics in the Bears' 13-12 loss to the Bulldogs yesterday.

"We had a bunch of penalties, and as a result we're once again going home losers," Mitchell said.

Ten penalties, to be exact, resulting in 91 yards being stepped off against the Bears (1-8). It wasn't necessarily the numbers that were so disheartening to Mitchell and his team, but rather the timing of the fouls.

Take Morgan State's last possession of the game, for instance.

Down by one point with 2: 33 to play, Bears quarterback Willie McGirt went back to pass from his 27-yard line.

The junior connected with wide receiver Marc Lester on what appeared to be a 73-yard touchdown reception. But a holding penalty nullified the play and pushed the Bears back to their 10-yard line.

Morgan State would make it to Samford's side of the field on the last-ditch drive, only to see its comeback bid fall short on a sack and two incomplete passes.

The Bears amassed 326 yards of total offense, mainly off McGirt's 183 passing yards -- 118 of which were hauled in by Lester.

But it was not enough to placate Mitchell.

"The defense played tough," the coach said after the Bears held Samford (5-4) to 194 yards of total offense.

"But offensively we didn't do much of anything, and I'm very disappointed in that. The bottom line is, we came away with a loss."

Neither team could mount much of an offensive threat in the first half. Cody Vasquez's two field goals, in fact, were the only points scored during that time period as the Bears took a 6-0 lead.

A revitalized Samford team took the field in the second half, however.

Bulldogs tailback Rashad Brewer returned Vasquez's kickoff 35 yards to his team's 45-yard line to start the third quarter. Four plays later, Brewer took off for 27 yards and the Bulldogs' first points of the game.

Samford's lead would last until the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, when McGirt ran in from 11 yards out for Morgan State's first touchdown. The Bears failed on their two-point conversion try.

Down 12-7 with 10: 25 to play, Samford mounted its last scoring drive after a 41-yard punt return by freshman Gary Reed. On third-and-13, senior quarterback Keith Williams hooked up with classmate James Griffith for a 15-yard pass reception and the first down at the Morgan State 22.

Three plays later, Jerome Russell ran 17 yards for the winning score.

Penalties weren't the only thing keeping Morgan State from pulling out the victory, however, as the Bears had two field-goal attempts blocked.

"That could have put us ahead," Vasquez said. "But we just didn't execute on special teams the way we should, and Samford also got good field position off their returns."

Next for Morgan

Opponent: Howard Site: William Greene Stadium, Washington

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 5-4

Yesterday: Beat South Carolina State, 32-31.

Pub Date: 11/08/98

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