Morgan edged by inches

Simpson stopped short 3 straight times

Hill-Eley unhappy with ref's call

Florida A&M 24 Morgan State 23

October 29, 2006|By Bob Ferrante | Bob Ferrante,Special to The Sun

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Scheduled as a homecoming opponent for its second straight road game, Morgan State fell a yard short of getting the upset yesterday.

Florida A&M pulled out a 24-23 win over the Bears before a raucous crowd of 26,190, sealing the win only after an improbable series of events: a goal-line stand by the Rattlers, followed by a safety by the Bears and then an interception by FAMU in the final seconds.

Trailing by three with the ball on the 1-yard line, Chad Simpson was stopped short of the end zone three straight times - the last a fourth-down tackle by the Rattlers' Vernon Wilder with 2:21 left in the game.

The Bears (4-5, 3-3 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) thought Simpson was in the end zone.

"It stuck a knife in our heart," Morgan State quarterback Mario Melton said. "We had some points slip off the board. We thought we were in."

Bears coach Donald Hill-Eley had some harsher feelings about the officials.

"I figured the kid [Simpson] jumped in the end zone on third down," Hill-Eley said. "He clearly was in the end zone. They said he wasn't; I don't know."

Hill-Eley, who also talked to the officials after the game, said he tried to call a timeout before fourth down, but said "the official walked by me." Melton said he did not see Hill-Eley call for a timeout and didn't consider calling one himself to discuss the play call or the option of going for a game-tying field goal.

But FAMU (5-3, 3-2) then was unable to move the ball off the 1-yard line. Running back Anthony Edwards was tackled in the end zone for a safety.

After Morgan State got the ball back, FAMU's Gregory Clark put a halt to any hopes of a Bears comeback with an interception deep in Morgan State territory with 21 seconds left.

Morgan State played admirably just to be in position to win. The Bears were without starting quarterback Byron Selby (injury) and leading receiver Rodrick Wolfe (suspension by MEAC).

Melton stepped in and completed just eight of 18 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown, but he also had a 53-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. The defense, meanwhile, held FAMU to 88 rushing yards.

The Bears benefited on their first two touchdown drives from Rattlers mistakes. Melton's touchdown run came after FAMU was called for pass interference on third-and-15, and a Rattlers penalty for excessive celebration set up a 21-yard kickoff return by Aaron Moore, giving the Bears the ball on FAMU's 49 and setting up a second-quarter touchdown by Simpson.

Simpson had 130 yards on 20 carries as the Bears attempted to win the time-of-possession battle. But players and coaches lamented what might have been.

"We played well enough to win," Hill-Eley said. "It just comes down to a call. I just hate it that it ended like that."

Morgan State 7 7 0 9-23

Florida A&M 7 14 0 3-24

First quarter Morg-Melton 53 run (Skeete kick), 6:41. FAMU-Hayward 35 pass from Chester II (Taylor kick), :00.

Second quarter Morg-Simpson 32 run (Skeete kick), 12:48. FAMU-Chester II 7 run (Taylor kick), 5:44. FAMU-Kiser 15 pass from Chester II (Taylor kick), :27.

Fourth quarter Morg-R.Sykes 10 pass from Melton (Skeete kick), 12:40. FAMU-FG Taylor 20, 9:06. Morg-Safety, 1:19. A-26,190.

Morg FAMU

First downs 16 22

Rushes-yards 36-208 31-88

Passing 111 293

Comp-Att-Int 8-18-1 22-35-1

Return Yards 31 56

Punts-Avg. 5-35.0 3-26.7

Fumbles-Lost 2-0 3-2

Penalties-Yards 5-40 8-81

Time of Possession 27:38 32:22 Rushing-Morgan St., Simpson 20-130, Melton 10-68, Nelson 6-10. Florida A&M, Camel 6-42, Chester II 10-24, Henry 7-21, Edwards 6-7, Team 1-(minus 2), Brazzle 1-(minus 4). Passing-Morgan St., Melton 8-18-1-111. Florida A&M, Chester II 16-21-0-217, Camel 6-13-1-76, Team 0-1-0-0. Receiving-Morgan St., McKenzie 3-29, Surret 2-56, R.Sykes 1-10, J.Wilson 1-9, Baptiste 1-7. Florida A&M, Hayward 5-95, Kiser 5-37, Wright 4-53, Jenkines 3-49, Morgan 2-32, De.Williams 2-24, Henry 1-3.

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