Big plays carry Morgan

Bears take 21-point halftime lead with 3 long TDs, hold off Bethune-Cookman in 4th quarter

Morgan State 28 Bethune-Cookman 14

October 01, 2006|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun reporter

Morgan State's season may have turned the corner last night.

With a lustrous defensive effort and big plays from the offense, the Bears stayed alive in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference race by upsetting high-scoring Bethune-Cookman, 28-14, and remained unbeaten at Hughes Stadium.

Morgan (2-3, 1-1 MEAC) blanked the Wildcats - who had averaged 37.8 points a game this season - until nine minutes were left in the game, riding a 21-point first half to its second home victory before 3,896.

"We knew if we had lost today, we'd have been just playing for respect," Morgan coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "We always knew the potential was there; it was just good to see our kids reach it."

Added quarterback Mario Melton: "We needed this win to get respect. It'll show a lot of people who see us that we're no pushovers anymore." Melton went the distance with Byron Selby (Dunbar) nursing a broken finger on his throwing hand.

It became interesting in the fourth period as Bethune-Cookman (3-2, 2-1) strung together a long drive and capitalized on field position for two scores. But, an ensuing onside kick failed and Morgan clinched the win when Chad Simpson dashed 32 yards for the game's final touchdown with 1:10 left.

The win keeps the Bears alive in the MEAC after losing, 26-7, to front-running Hampton a week earlier. "We probably should have won that game [despite the final score]," Hill-Eley said. "We're still Bears here. The young men are ready to play."

Terrell Floyd spearheaded the defensive effort with nine tackles, including three for losses, as Bethune-Cookman was forced to play nearly the entire game without Jarod Rucker, the quarterback who leads the MEAC in passing. Rucker suffered an injured wrist on the third play from scrimmage and ceded the duties to Jimmie Russell.

"I was fortunate to get the sacks," Floyd said, "but it was basically because we were prepared for everything. It was just like they [the Wildcats] were playing in slow motion."

Morgan scored after two of three fumbles the Wildcats lost in the game, turned aside a field-goal attempt late in the second quarter and then built a 21-0 cushion when Melton took a quarterback draw up the middle, cut to the sideline and dashed 70 yards for a touchdown with 56 seconds left in the half.

Earlier, the sophomore had hit Rodrick Wolfe (Edmondson) with a 61-yard touchdown pass on a sideline fly pattern, and Craig Nelson had turned an off-tackle play into a 53-yard touchdown run. Those scores followed fumble recoveries by Darius Leak and Bryan Wilson.

Morgan had been averaging only 11.5 points a game and only six in its three defeats. In this game, the offense churned out nearly 8 yards a play and accumulated 380 net yards.

"We played Mario last week, so it was old hat to him," Hill-Eley said. "We just wanted him doing the things he could."

Note -- Morgan State inducted six new members into its Athletic Hall of Fame yesterday, and they were recognized at halftime last night. Honored were Dr. John Laws Nickens Jr. (swimming, 1968-1970), Chet Davis (men's basketball, 1969-1973), Paula Clagon-Smith (track and field, 1975-1979), Paulette Clagon (track and field, 1975-1979), Ralph Jones (swimming coach, 1966-1970) and Charles Kelly (swimming, 1953-1955). kent.baker@baltsun.com

Bethune-Cookman 0 0 0 14 - 14

Morgan St 0 21 0 7 - 28

Second quarter Morg-Wolfe 61 pass from Melton (Skeete kick), 12:32. Morg-Nelson 53 run (Skeete kick), 10:10. Morg-Melton 70 run (Skeete kick), :56.

Fourth quarter Beth-Brannon 3 run (Cortez kick), 9:06. Beth-Weems 13 pass from Russell (Cortez kick), 1:57. Morg-C.Simpson 32 run (Skeete kick), 1:10. A-3,896.

Beth Morg

First downs 24 14

Rushes-yards 36-90 32-247

Passing 270 133

Comp-Att-Int 23-37-0 10-16-1

Return yards 14 17

Punts-Avg. 4-44.8 6-30.5

Fumbles-Lost 4-3 0-0

Penalties-Yards 12-65 11-124

Time of possession 35:32 24:28

RUSHING-Bethune-Cookman, Weems 8-43, Hampton 3-18, Dailey 2-17, D.Bradley 1-15, Brannon 2-10, Smith 1-2, Rucker 2-1, Council 1-0, Russell 15-(minus 7), V.Johnson 1-(minus 9). Morgan St., Melton 10-106, Nelson 2-52, C.Simpson 11-47, James 9-42. PASSING-Bethune-Cookman, Russell 23-36-0-270, Rucker 0-1-0-0. Morgan St., Melton 10-16-1-133. RECEIVING-Bethune-Cookman, V.Johnson 8-102, Weems 8-70, Council 4-56, Pope 1-19, D.Simpson 1-13, Dailey 1-10. Morgan St., Sykes 3-19, James 3-14, Wolfe 2-87, J.Wilson 1-7, Nelson 1-6.

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