Morgan miscues lead to loss to N.C. A&T

Bears have 6 turnovers against Aggies, fall, 28-21

College Football

October 12, 2003|By Bo Smolka | Bo Smolka,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For much of the first half of yesterday's 28-21 loss to North Carolina A&T, Morgan State resembled the bad news Bears of old, as a series of miscues - beginning with the coin flip - led to a quick 20-0 deficit.

But for about 15 minutes midway through the contest, Morgan looked more like the revived program that upset nationally ranked Bethune-Cookman last week.

In the end, though, the Bears (2-4, 1-4 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) couldn't overcome six turnovers in the loss to the improved Aggies (5-1, 2-0) in front of 5,615 at Hughes Stadium.

"You cannot turn the ball over six times against anybody and expect to win," Morgan coach Donald Hill-Eley said.

Quarterback Randal Rankins, making just his second start, threw two touchdowns to stake the Aggies to the early lead before leaving with a knee injury in the second quarter.

Morgan quarterback LeJominick Washington, who riddled the Aggies for a school-record 551 yards in a 52-42 win two years ago, never got on track. He was 9-for-28 for 142 yards and was picked off three times. Washington also carried 18 times for a game-high 89 yards and one score.

"We knew we had to contain him," Aggies coach George Small said. "We worked on that all week."

Whatever momentum the Bears generated with their 31-24 overtime upset of Bethune-Cookman last week quickly evaporated in an error-prone first half. The Bears were hurt by two fumbled kickoff returns, an interception and a bad snap that resulted in a 2-yard punt.

The problems started even before the game, as the Bears won the toss and chose to kick rather than defer the choice, which gave the Aggies the ball to start both halves.

The Bears found themselves down 14-0 before they ran an offensive play.

North Carolina A&T marched 78 yards in nine plays on the game's opening drive, which was capped by a 6-yard touchdown strike from Rankins to Douglas Brown.

Morgan State mishandled the ensuing kickoff, and the Aggies recovered at the Morgan 16-yard line. Two plays later, Rankins hit tight end Joshua King for a 16-yard touchdown with 9:10 left in the first quarter.

"We're down 14-0 in the first couple of minutes," Hill-Eley said. "Those things throw you out of sync."

Yonnick Matthews sandwiched field goals of 50 and 34 yards around a Morgan State fumbled kickoff return for a 20-0 Aggies lead with 13:39 left in the half.

The Bears caught their first break when the Aggies botched the snap on a 47-yard field goal try late in the half.

Morgan's offense, which hadn't gained a first down on three earlier possessions in the second quarter, suddenly found its stride. Washington rolled out for 17 yards on the first play, and later scrambled for 8 yards to the Aggies' 1. Christian Sweat then powered over from 1 yard out, cutting the Bears' deficit to 20-7 at the half.

On their first possession of the second half, the Bears marched 80 yards on 12 plays, closing to within 20-14 on a 1-yard keeper by Washington.

An interception on the next Morgan possession, though, seemed to revive the Aggies. They drove 66 yards in nine plays, with Carl Scriven scoring on a 4-yard run for a 28-14 lead.

Morgan State had one promising fourth-quarter drive snuffed out when tight end Chris Cash fumbled at the Aggies' 10.

N. Carolina A&T 14 6 0 8 - 28

Morgan State 0 7 7 7 - 21

First quarter NCAT-Brown 6 pass from Rankins (Matthews kick), 10:00 NCAT-King 16 pass from Rankins (Matthews kick), 9:10 Second quarter NCAT-FG Matthews 50, 14:51 NCAT-FG Matthews 34, 13:39 MSU-Sweat 1 run (Voroshilin kick), 0:49 Third quarter MSU-Washington 1 run (Voroshilin kick), 4:39 Fourth quarter NCAT-Scriven 4 run (Brown pass), 12:26 MSU-Napper 25 pass from Washington (Voroshilin kick), 3:07 A-5,615.


First downs 16 15

Rushes-yards 54-50 28-123

Passing 218 142

Comp-Att-Int 13-20-0 9-28-3

Return Yards 169 73

Punts-Avg. 5-39.2 5-35.0

Fumbles-Lost 3-2 3-3

Penalties-Yards 11-142 8-130

Time of Possession 36:45 23:15

Rushing-N. Carolina A&T, Scriven 36-43, Hollingsworth 10-38, Patterson 1-5, Thompson 1-0, Glenn 5-(minus 4), Matthews 1-(minus 32). Morgan St., Washington 18-89, Sweat 10-34. Passing-N. Carolina A&T, Glenn 8-11-0, Rankins 5-9-0. Morgan St., Washington 9-28-142-3. Receiving-N. Carolina A&T, Jones 2-33, Phillips 2-32, King 2-27, Brown 2-21, Scriven 2-21, Trusty 1-39, Hinton 1-36, Hadrick 1-9. Morgan St., Manus 4-32, Cash 3-70, Napper 2-40.

Next for Morgan

Matchup: Howard (2-3, 1-1) vs. Morgan State (2-4, 1-3)

Site: Hughes Stadium

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Radio: WEAA (88.9 FM)

Yesterday: Howard beat Florida A&M, 16-14.

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