Norfolk St. adds to Morgan's woes, 20-16

Bears blow 13-0 lead

injuries continue to mount

November 07, 1999|By Paul White | Paul White,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NORFOLK, Va. -- Bad luck may have been haunting Norfolk State over the past month, but yesterday it met a team that must have broken a mirror, spilled some salt and watched a black cat race beside its sideline minutes before kickoff.

The Spartans rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to upend hapless Morgan State, 20-16, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game before 12,417 homecoming fans at Dick Price Stadium.

Norfolk State (2-7, 1-6) seemed to be the conference's unluckiest team after it lost in the final minute three times in its past four games. But tough-break honors yesterday went to the Bears (2-6, 0-5), who showed up in Norfolk without a quarterback.

Season-ending shoulder surgery to starting quarterback Willie McGirt and a concussion suffered by backup Marques Brown forced the Bears to use wide receiver Marc Lester behind center all afternoon.

Injuries during the game to wide receiver Armand Walters, who caught a 40-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, tailback James Parker and return man T. J. Stallings thinned out the Bears even more.

"I don't know what else can go wrong," Morgan State coach Stanley Mitchell said. "Seems like everything that can go wrong already has."

The undermanned Bears still almost pulled it off. A 1-yard scoring run by Lester and his touchdown pass to Walters gave the Bears a 13-0 lead before the game was 10 minutes old.

Ultimately, however, the Bears' inability to sustain a passing attack caught up with them. With the Spartans focusing on stopping Morgan State's running game and keeping the elusive Lester in the pocket, the Bears managed just 45 yards through the air after the Lester-to-Walters scoring pass.

"We felt we could stop them because we knew he couldn't throw downfield," Norfolk State linebacker William Black said.

Mitchell said Lester did "an outstanding job under the circumstances" and added that mistakes are what really hindered his team. Morgan State was penalized 14 times for 115 yards, including once for pass interference that gave Norfolk State the ball at the Bears' 1 and set up the Spartans' second touchdown.

"These things have been hurting us since the beginning of the year and they hurt us again," Mitchell said. "It's as though we've been losing so long that we don't know how to win. We can't seem to get over the hump."

The Spartans pulled to 16-12 on quarterback Theo Harrison's 1-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter. Running back Damien Smith got the game-winning score from 2 yards out with 9: 28 left in the game.

Next for Morgan

Opponent: Howard

Site: Greene Stadium, Washington

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 4-5

Yesterday: Beat South Carolina State, 49-42.

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