Delaware St. overwhelms Morgan

First-time QB Lester starts fast, but Bears fade, 34-20

October 24, 1999|By Joy Spencer | Joy Spencer,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

DOVER, Del. -- Marc Lester took one for the team, of sorts.

Lester, Morgan State's top receiver, lined up at quarterback yesterday against Delaware State after the Bears' top two quarterbacks were unable to play because of injury. However, Lester couldn't stop Morgan from falling to Delaware State, 34-20.

Starting quarterback Willie McGirt is out for the season after tearing the rotator cuff in his right shoulder last Saturday against North Carolina A&T. Backup Marques Brown sustained a concussion in that game and didn't practice all week.

"This was a role for the team -- to help the team out," said Lester, a 6-foot-5 sophomore. "It's not what I wanted, but I had to do it for the team. I knew the first drive wouldn't be crisp, but once I got into a rhythm, I felt I'd be OK."

The Bears (2-5, 0-5 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) were hampered by 10 penalties for 119 yards and ended a two-game winning streak against the Hornets.

"This is my first time playing quarterback ever," said Lester, who finished 10-for-24 for 71 yards with one interception. He also rushed for 75 yards, including two of the Bears' three touchdowns. "I felt pretty comfortable with what the staff put together for me."

Lester entered the game with one pass attempt in his career -- an interception last week against North Carolina A&T. And despite having an inexperienced quarterback, the Bears jumped out to 14-0 lead in the first half.

"We knew our shortcoming was at quarterback," said Morgan State coach Stanley Mitchell. "We designed our offense for that particular player's ability. Once we put the package together, the whole team was up for it."

Running back Ali Culpepper, who carried the offensive load yesterday, plunged into the end zone on a fourth-and-goal from 2 yards out to put the Bears on the scoreboard first. Culpepper finished the game with 147 yards rushing.

Minutes later, the Bears converted one of three first-half turnovers by Delaware State. Lester completed a five-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to give Morgan State a 14-0 lead.

But the Hornets battled back, scoring 34 unanswered points, including an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 68-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, both scored by DaShane Dennis.

Lester added his second touchdown, a 15-yard run, with 3: 56 remaining in the game. He also picked up a 47-yard gain on the second play of that drive.

But the Hornets (3-4, 3-1) used up most of the clock on their next drive and secured the win.

"I thought we had a good package for Delaware State," Mitchell said. "We just made mistakes and errors that cost us the game."

Next for Morgan

Opponent: Norfolk State

Site: William "Dick" Price Stadium, Norfolk, Va.

When: Nov. 6, 1: 30 p.m.

Record: 1-6

Yesterday: Lost to Virginia Union, 21-9

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