Morgan gives FAMU fight, but ends up short, 21-12

Bears take early lead, but Rattlers rally for win

September 09, 2001|By Dan Johnson | Dan Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - There was no hiding the fact that Florida A&M was having a hard time putting its Gulf Coast Offense into gear.

For 29 of the 30 minutes in the first half against Morgan State last night, the Rattlers' offense was clearly out of sync.

"Give Morgan State credit," said FAMU head coach Billy Joe. "They played a nearly flawless game and we struggled," though, in the end, the Rattlers earned a 21-12 win.

Dropped passes, overthrown balls, two turnovers and just 66 yards of offense by FAMU helped Morgan State (0-2) take a 6-0 lead late in the second quarter.

Just when it looked as if the Rattlers would be shut out in the first half for the first time since the 1998 season opener against Hampton, their offense woke up.

Quarterback Quinn Gray, who completed nine of 17 passes in the half, led the Rattlers on a 50-yard drive that took all of 24 seconds after Isaac Brown ran in from 25 yards for the go-ahead points.

Although the offense failed to keep that rhythm going in the second half, the Rattlers managed to play well enough to walk out of Bragg Memorial Stadium with the victory.

Leading by only 14-12, FAMU got some much-needed breathing room when, with 5:53 remaining, Gray threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to DeMar Bowe.

That score followed two field goals by the Bears' Jonathan Vorosholin earlier in the fourth.

FAMU (2-0) quickly turned its narrow margin to eight as Gray capped off a five-play, 54-yard drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown.

While the offense struggled, FAMU's defense did a solid job in containing Morgan State running back Ali Culpepper.

Culpepper gained just 27 yards on 15 carries in the first half and finished the game with 94 yards on 28 carries. He had 229 last Saturday.

Neither FAMU nor Morgan State had much in the way of offense in the first quarter. Morgan gained just three first downs and punted four times while FAMU had an interception, two punts and a turnover on downs.

Bears wide receiver Marc Lester's 34-yard leaping catch between four FAMU defenders helped set up the first of two Vorosholin field goals in the half.

A Gray fumble on the ensuing series turned the ball back over to the Bears, who failed to capitalize on the turnover.

Morgan received good field position after a 32-yard FAMU punt, but once again failed to find the end zone and had to settle for a field goal, this one coming with 4:26 left in the half.

Next for Morgan

Opponent: Howard

Site: Hughes Stadium

When: Sept. 22, 3:30 p.m.

Record: 0-2

Yesterday: Lost to Hampton, 27-20.

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