Culpepper sets record, but Hampton wins, 35-20

He finishes final Morgan season with 1,079 yards

November 18, 2001|By Jami Frankenberry | Jami Frankenberry,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HAMPTON, Va. - The Hampton Pirates spoiled an historic day for Morgan State running back Ali Culpepper with a punishing rushing attack of their own.

Culpepper gained 212 yards, overtaking Bobby Hammond as the school's all-time leading rusher, but Hampton piled up 192 yards on the ground during a 35-20 victory over Morgan State yesterday.

Culpepper, a 5-foot-11, 220-pound senior, needed just 34 yards in the Bears' season finale to pass Hammond. Culpepper finished with 1,079 yards this season, breaking John Sykes' mark of 1,007 set in 1970. He rushed for more than 900 yards last season before suffering a thumb injury.

"I've been close so it feels good that I finally got 1,000 yards," said Culpepper, who carried 44 times and scored on a 2-yard run. "I'm not really thinking about that. I'm just kind of hurt that we didn't win our last one."

Hampton's Christopher Parker returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown and the Pirates (7-4, 6-2 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) took advantage of Morgan State's porous run defense after that.

Robert Smith carried 36 times for 174 yards and three touchdowns. He had 21 attempts for 85 yards in the second half as Hampton handed the Bears (2-9, 1-7) their sixth straight loss and broke Morgan State's stretch of slim losses. The Bears lost their previous five games by a total of 23 points.

"We're young, and we're beat up," Morgan State coach Stanley Mitchell said. "We've just got to find some depth and we'll be a very good team next year."

While Culpepper found holes in Hampton's rushing defense, the Pirates harassed Morgan State quarterbacks Jorge Pena and Lejominick Washington.

Pena played in the first six series, tossing a 29-yard touchdown pass to Vishante Shancoe that got Morgan State within 14-7.

But Pena was 3-for-12 before being pulled on the final series of the first half. Pena was intercepted at the Hampton 10, and was stopped on a fourth-and-goal at the Pirates' 1-yard line on consecutive first-quarter possessions.

Washington, still nursing a left knee injury, finished 13 of 23 for 80 yards, but was seldom able to find open receivers.

"They did a good job of disguising their coverages," Washington said. "Their blitzes were obvious, but their coverage was good."

Michael Compton had a 44-yard touchdown reception, and Smith added a 42-yard score to give Hampton a 21-7 halftime lead.

Morgan State 0 7 0 13 - 20

Hampton 14 7 7 7 - 35

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