Morgan's season runs out of steam, 34-14

Coley rushes for 157 yards

Bears finish 2-8 overall

College Football

November 21, 1999|By Heath A. Smith | Heath A. Smith,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HAMPTON, Va. -- First-year Morgan State football coach Stanley Mitchell said he took the job at his alma mater for the challenge, but he may have gotten more than he bargained for.

The Bears' season came to a disappointing end yesterday, as they fell, 34-14, at the hands of the Hampton University at Armstrong Field. Morgan State finished the season 2-8 overall, 0-7 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

"The biggest challenge this season has been trying to find the right people to match up with our opponents and trying to put together the right system," Mitchell said after the game. "Every week, we've had to change our system to fit what we've had as far as injuries and what the other teams would try to do against us."

The Bears tried to catch the Pirates off guard in the first half by switching from a wide-open passing attack early in the first quarter to a ground game. Mitchell's strategy helped the Bears take a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter on a 1-yard run from Ali Culpepper, followed by K. C. Vasquez's extra-point kick.

That lead would not last long, however, as Hampton junior tailback Montrell Coley put the Pirates ahead for good on a 22-yard touchdown run with 2: 31 left in the half.

Morgan State's defense did not find an answer for Coley, who rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

"[Coley] is really healthy now," Hampton coach Joe Taylor said. "He's had a knee injury and an ankle injury this season because he runs so hard. This is probably the healthiest he's been since the Grambling State game [on Sept. 25]."

The Pirates finished the regular season 7-4 overall record and 5-3 in the MEAC. They now wait to find out whether their season is over or whether they will be playing in the Heritage Bowl on Dec. 18 in Atlanta against the winner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game.

Coley did most of his damage on the ground against the Bears in the first half, rushing for 103 yards. Coley gained 57 of those yards on one play in the first quarter, which set up senior place-kicker Acie Wyatt's 27-yard field goal.

Coley would come right back early in the third quarter with a 10-yard touchdown to increase the Pirates' lead. Coley just didn't do it on the ground, either.

The Goldsboro, N.C., native also led the Pirates with three receptions for a game-high 75 yards, including a 61-yard catch in the third quarter, which set up his second touchdown.

"I'm still not really all the way healthy," Coley said after the game. "Basically, I'm just playing as hard as I can. We're just trying to stay together so we can get into postseason play."

Coley wasn't the only running back to have a big game. Morgan State tailback Keith Warren had a big first half against the Bears in a losing effort, rushing for 97 yards, including a long run of 43. Warren finished the game with 108 yards rushing.

The Bears rushed for 172 yards but were held to 74 yards passing. Marques Brown started for Morgan State, but after completing just two of 15 passes for 21 yards, no touchdowns and an interception, he was replaced by Marc Lester, who completed five of nine passes for 53 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.

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