Morgan State was hoping to take a step last night toward a respectable finish to a rough season, but the Florida A&M Rattlers, led by sophomore quarterback Albert Chester II and senior running back Rashard Pompey, refused to let that happen.
Chester produced 202 net yards of offense, completed 14 of 16 passes and rushed for two touchdowns, while Pompey rushed for 101 yards and a score, as the Rattlers put away Morgan State, 27-16, last night before 3,429 at Hughes Stadium.
Morgan State (2-7 overall, 1-5 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) lost for the fifth time in its past six games, partly because its offense could not keep drives going, thanks to penalties, dropped passes and other breakdowns. Mainly, the Bears' young defense failed to contain the speedy, shifty combination of Chester and Pompey.
Florida A&M (4-4, 3-2), which overcame 11 penalties at a cost of 119 yards and nearly blew a 20-6, third-quarter lead, surprised the Bears by running an unusual number of option plays.
Chester, who threw for 139 yards and patiently completed passes underneath Morgan's zone coverages, slashed through the Morgan defense for 63 yards rushing, including the 9-yard run that concluded the scoring with 4:26 left in the game.
Pompey, who left early in the fourth quarter with a rib injury, hurt the Bears' over-pursuing defense with strong cutback moves. His 29-yard touchdown run with 1:29 left in the third quarter gave the Rattlers a 20-6 advantage.
"Their quarterback is very mobile, and we hadn't seen too much option from them on film. They read our defense," said Morgan State senior safety Larry Davis, who finished with 11 tackles. "[Pompey] was a real swift back. It was hard to read when he was going to cut back and where he was going to cut back."
After a three-and-out possession to start the second half, a Morgan punt was blocked by Florida A&M's Donnell Shepard. Three plays later, after a 20-yard burst by Pompey, Chester scored from the 1 to make it 13-6 with 13:25 left in the third quarter.
Morgan later drove, with the help of two 15-yard penalties, to the Rattlers' 31, but that was it. Seven plays and 69 yards later, Pompey made it 20-6.
But the Bears rebounded, thanks in part to a roughing-the-passer call against the Rattlers. A 35-yard completion from sophomore quarterback Byron Selby to sophomore receiver Jai Wilson moved the ball to the Florida A&M 4. Junior running back Jason Jackson scored on the next play to cut the Rattlers' lead to 20-13 with 13:58 left in the contest.
Morgan State recovered a fumble by Chester on the Rattlers' ensuing possession, taking over at the Florida A&M 19. But the Bears had to settle for a 33-yard field goal with 11:01 left, making it 20-16.
Florida A&M 0 6 14 7-27
Morgan State 6 0 0 10-16
First quarter MSU-FG Meade 28, 10:06. MSU-FG Meade 23, :02.
Second quarter FAMU-FG Taylor 46, 12:05. FAMU-FG Taylor 35, 3:17.
Third quarter FAMU-Chester 1 run (Taylor kick), 13:25. FAMU-Pompey 29 run (Taylor kick), 1:29.
Fourth quarter MSU-J. Jackson 4 run (Meade kick), 13:58. MSU-FG Meade 33, 11:01. FAMU-Chester 9 run (Taylor kick), 4:26. A-3,429
First downs 18 18
Rushes-yards 48-195 34-91
Passing 139 188
Comp-Att-Int 14-16-0 17-30-0
Return Yards 58 49
Punts-Avg. 2-45.0 4-25.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-Yards 11-119 5-39
Time of Possession 33:47 26:13
Rushing-Florida A&M, Pompey 15-101, Chester 24-63, Kiser 2-19, Williams 6-16. Morgan State, J. Jackson 17-42, Selby 13-34, Nelson 3-16, Dickens 1-(minus 1). Passing-Florida A&M, Chester 14-16-0-139. Morgan State, Selby 17-30-0-188. Receiving-Florida A&M, Wright 6-71, Kiser 5-31, Swain 3-37. Morgan State, Wilson 5-69, Dickens 3-37, Wolfe 3-31, Custis 2-34, Henson 2-13, McKenzie 1-3, Cash 1-1.