Mistakes undo Morgan

Hornets capitalize on fumbles, blocked punts to end Bears' 3-game win streak

Delaware State 29 Morgan State 7

October 22, 2006|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun reporter

In the showdown for second place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Delaware State easily finished first.

The Hornets dominated Morgan State in every phase of football yesterday, routed the Bears, 29-7, at Hughes Stadium, and pulled within a half game of first place when previously undefeated Hampton (5-1 MEAC) lost at South Carolina State. After winning three consecutive MEAC games to climb into the title chase, Morgan (4-4, 3-2) did very little right before a disappointed homecoming gathering of 13,557.

Delaware State (5-2, 4-1) drove 80 yards to a touchdown on the first drive of the game, seized all the momentum when the Bears missed a field goal and lost a fumble on their first two possessions, and turned two blocked punts into nine points.

By halftime, Morgan was down 17-0, and it got worse the first time the Hornets had the ball in the third period. Quarterback Vashon Winton avoided a Morgan blitz and dropped a screen pass to his favorite target, Shaheer McBride, who made a couple of cuts and transformed the gain into a 73-yard play to the Bears' 4. Winton scored two plays later.

The next two times the Bears were on offense, Lamont Kennard blocked a punt by Earl Johnson, which rolled out of the Morgan end zone for a Delaware State safety, and they lost a second fumble. It just wasn't their day.

"We were just flat," Bears coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "Even the way we moved around to the locker room, everything was late. That's the flattest game I've seen us play - ever."

The dull performance came without warning, because practice sessions earlier in the week were excellent. "It was like we were jacked up all week and had great practices," the coach said. "Then, we got to the game and didn't have anything left."

About the only glimmer for the Bears was the return of junior quarterback Byron Selby (Dunbar), who had been sidelined for three weeks after suffering a broken finger against Hampton.

Selby led the team on a 94-yard march to its only touchdown, converting a fourth-down play with a 14-yard run along the way, and passing to Leroy Etheridge for the final 2 yards. Jonathan Skeete kicked the extra point after a penalty nullified a two-pointer, bringing Morgan within 26-7 with 12:19 left in the game.

The Hornets answered with a career-long 49-yard field goal by Josh Brite, who had kicked one a yard shorter in the second period.

But Morgan couldn't cash in on its final two series and lost receiver Roderick Wolfe (Edmondson) to an ejection after an unsportsmanlike penalty.

"We knew we had to come out and set the tone early, get the game under our belt," Winton said. "We just executed what we had to do."

The Bears actually outgained their foes by 5 yards and registered six more first downs, but the disparities in the kicking game and turnovers (Delaware State had none) were huge.

"You don't always win on offense or defense," Hornets coach Al Lavan said. "More times than not, you can win if you've got a good kicker and super coverage guys. The biggest plays you can make are on special teams."

Mario Melton, the young quarterback who led Morgan to three wins in Selby's absence, pointed to the first lost fumble - on the first play of the second quarter - as the turning point.

"They weren't doing anything special or spectacular," he said of the Hornets' defense. "That fumble on the option play just hurt us."

Asked about bright spots, Hill-Eley replied: "After a loss, it's so cloudy, there aren't any spots. We've been here before. We'll address the mistakes and move on."

The victory was the third straight for Delaware State since a 29-14 defeat to Hampton.

kent.baker@baltsun.com

Delaware St. 7 10 9 3 -29

Morgan St. 0 0 0 7 -7

First quarter DeSt-S.McBride 3 pass from Winton (Brite kick), 10:09.

Second quarter DeSt-FG Brite 48, 8:12. DeSt-Kelly 10 blocked punt return (Brite kick), 4:54.

Third quarter DeSt-Winton 3 run (Brite kick), 10:56. DeSt-Safety, 9:30.

Fourth quarter Morg-Ethridge 2 pass from Selby (Skeete kick), 12:19. DeSt-FG Brite 49, 9:44. A-13,557.

DeSt Morg

First downs 13 19

Rushes-yards 30-125 41-122

Passing 156 164

Comp-Att-Int 12-20-0 18-32-0

Return Yards 53 -5

Punts-Avg. 6-40.7 4-15.5

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2

Penalties-Yards 11-104 8-156

Time of Possession 28:46 31:14 Rushing-Delaware St., Marc 15-57, Winton 11-49, Norville 4-19. Morgan St., Selby 10-53, Nelson 11-37, Simpson 12-35, J.Wilson 1-12, Je.Jones 1-1, Melton 6-(minus 16). Passing-Delaware St., Winton 12-20-0-156. Morgan St., Melton 10-21-0-98, Selby 8-11-0-66. Receiving-Delaware St., S.McBride 8-134, Marc 2-10, Everett 1-10, Norville 1-2. Morgan St., J.Wilson 8-35, Baptiste 3-49, Sykes 2-40, Wolfe 2-22, Surratt 2-16, Ethridge 1-2.

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