Morgan State outlasts Bowie State, 41-35

Nelson's 203 rushing yards help Bears avoid upset against Division II team

College Football

September 05, 2004|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A former high school sprinting champion in New York, sophomore Craig Nelson is one of the speediest members of the Morgan State football team.

With the Bears trying to dodge the upset bid of Division II Bowie State in their season opener last night, the running back also was quick to emerge as an offensive force.

He ran for a career-high 203 yards -- including 151 yards and three touchdowns in the first half -- on 29 carries to help the host Bears hold off the Bulldogs, 41-35, before 9,571 in the inaugural Harlow Fullwood Football Classic at Hughes Stadium.

FOR THE RECORD - In Sunday's editions, an article on Morgan State's football game Saturday incorrectly reported the name of Morgan's starting quarterback, Bradshaw Littlejohn.
The Sun regrets the error.

"That was the same kid that was running and struggling last year when everyone said that we didn't have a running back," said Morgan coach Donald Hill-Eley. "But through nourishment of letting him run the ball last year, he's developed into a very explosive runner."

Nelson's effort, along with that of quarterback Bradford Littlejohn (218 yards passing, three total touchdowns), was barely enough to give Morgan its second straight win in a home opener, and sixth win overall in its past eight games, dating to last season.

It took an interception with 1:57 left by freshman Herman Hayes to preserve the win, ending the Bulldogs' potential go-ahead drive at the Bears' 34.

Facing a team coached by Mike Lynn, who served as Morgan's offensive line coach for the past three seasons, the Bears turned in an uneven performance, gaining 461 yards of total offense, but also getting consistently burned on defense in the second half.

Despite the outcome, the night had an ominous beginning for the Bears.

On Morgan's second play from scrimmage, Alonzo Corbett picked off Littlejohn's errant screen pass to the left side and went 32 yards untouched down the far sideline.

"[I thought], `Here we go,' " said Hill-Eley. "We gave them energy at inopportune times."

On Morgan's next play from scrimmage, however, Nelson sprinted around the right side, cut back and went 63 yards to tie the game.

Minutes later, the Bears took a 13-7 lead when Littlejohn's 42-yard pass to Kelvin Dickens on a fly pattern set up Nelson's 2-yard plunge.

Morgan went on to take a 27-14 halftime lead, but Bowie (1-1) stayed in the game by riding the arm of quarterback Jabali Smith (242 yards passing, three touchdowns).

Moments after Littlejohn extended the Bears' lead to 14 by starting left, accelerating through a hole and sprinting 24 yards into the end zone, Bowie cut it 35-28 when Isaac Redman took the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown.

The Bears appeared to seal the win when Littlejohn hit Dickens on a 31-yard touchdown pass with 12:20 to play, and their defense then forced an incompletion on a fourth-and-six on Morgan's 13.

Following a three-and-out on the Bears' next possession, however, Mark McKenzie managed just an 11-yard punt, and Smith hit DeMarcus Reeves for a 19-yard touchdown on the next play to make it 41-35.

Bowie State 7 7 14 7 -- 35

Morgan State 13 14 8 6 -- 41

First quarter BS--Corbett 32 interception return (Walls kick), 14:02. MS--Nelson 63 run (Keever kick), 13:37 MS--Nelson 2 run (kick failed), 4:02 Second quarter MS--Nelson 5 run (Nelson run), 6:15 BS--Thomas 31 pass from Smith (Walls kick), 5:13 MS--Dickens 33 pass from Littlejohn (run failed), :34 Third quarter BS--Thomas 29 pass from Smith (Walls kick), 11:54 MS--Littlejohn 24 run (Selby run), :11 BS--Redman 85 kickoff return (Walls kick), 00:00 Fourth quarter MS--Dickens 31 pass from Littlejohn (kick failed), 12:20 BS--Reeves 19 pass from Smith (Walls kick), 4:03 A: 9,571

BS MS

Rushes-yards 30-91 43-243

Passing 262 218

Comp-Att-Int 17-39-2 11-27-1

Return Yards 169 153

Punts-Avg. 6-34.2 5-32

Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-0

Time of Possession 29:26 30:34

Rushing--Bowie State, Jordan 17-74, Smith 6-25, Redman 4-2, Manigo 3-(-10). Morgan State, Nelson 29-203, Littlejohn 10-42, Garner 2-4, Deshazo 1-0, McKenzie 1-(-6). Passing--Bowie State, Smith 16-35-242-2, Manigo 1-4-20-1. Morgan State, Littlejohn 11-27-218-1. Receiving--Bowie State, Thomas 6-126, McGee 5-56, Ellis 3-12, Jordan 1-26, Payne 1-23, Reeves 1-19. Morgan State, Dickens 5-139, Manus 4-36, Wolfe 1-39, Case 1-4.

Next for Morgan

Matchup: Gardner-Webb (0-1) vs. Morgan State (1-0)

Site: Hughes Stadium

When: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Radio: WEAA (88.9 FM)

Yesterday: Gardner-Webb lost to Tennessee Tech, 32-26

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