In OT, Morgan gets 4th win in 5 games

Beating Del. State, 35-28, puts Bears at .500 mark

College Football

October 27, 2002|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

They celebrated in a slop that was Hughes Stadium's field. In the locker room, they gleefully sang the school's fight song.

The Morgan State Bears won their third straight homecoming game yesterday with a 35-28 overtime decision over Delaware State, along the way venturing into unfamiliar territory. With their fourth victory in the past five games, the Bears (4-4) reached the .500 level for the first time since 1997.

"We haven't seen .500 in a while," said senior all-purpose back T.J. Stallings. "We just wanted to get this one, get .500 and now we're rolling. We're on a winning streak and we're not looking to stop."

Stallings, a senior from Randallstown, scored on a 6-yard run on the game's first overtime possession. The Bears' defense stopped Delaware State (2-6, 0-4 MEAC) on fourth-and-one from the 3, sending most of the crowd of 14,236 into a frenzy.

Picked to finish last in the MEAC, Morgan (3-2 league) has won three straight league games. It's the longest streak by Morgan since 1979, its last winning campaign (9-2). This is the latest in a season the Bears have been at .500 since 1981.

"That hasn't happened in a while. After the Howard victory, we started thinking about 4-4," said sophomore defensive end Sekou Goings. "One of the guys said you just can't settle for 4-4, we got to keep it going."

After three straight losses to start the season, Morgan is thinking about a winning season. The Bears were able to maintain their composure and footing yesterday on a field that was mostly mud between the goal lines, with Cliff Johnson returning a 96-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and Jorge Pena turning a botched point-after try into a two-point conversion.

Early in the final quarter, Stallings went to his left out of the backfield and got behind a Delaware State defender to catch a 20-yard scoring pass from quarterback Lejominick Washington on fourth-and-10 with 12:11 remaining. Pena mishandled the snap on the point after, but slipped out of the grasp of a would-be tackler and found Visanthe Shiancoe in the end zone for two points.

Delaware State quarterback Drew Blackston drew the Hornets back even with a 63-yard scoring pass to DaShaun Morris and a two-point toss to Calvin Ford. The Bears advanced the ball to Delaware State's 36, but Stallings dropped Washington's pass on fourth down with 39.1 seconds in regulation.

Washington (12 of 25, 226 yards) connected with Shiancoe for an 18-yard pickup on a third-and-nine in overtime before Stallings atoned for his drop late in regulation, going wide to his left for the winning touchdown.

"He's the type of guy who's going to make more plays than he's going to make a mistake," said Morgan coach Donald Hill-Eley. "We got back into overtime and we wanted to settle them down with two runs because we knew everybody's anxiety would be high. We came back with the pass to Vishante, and we wanted to get T.J. to the perimeter and let him make a play."

"The media picked us to finish last, but a lot of guys in this program were picked not to finish," said Hill-Eley. "It's not about where we're coming from but where we're going. Right now, Morgan State is on the rise and we're just fortunate to be a part of it."

Delaware State 0 12 8 8 0 - 28

Morgan State 7 13 0 8 7 - 35

Next for Morgan

Opponent:Morris Brown

Site:Hughes Stadium

When:Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record:1-7

Yesterday:Lost to Samford, 20-7

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