Morgan keeps cool, wins second straight

Bears come back with Simpson's TD in fourth quarter

Morgan State 22 North Carolina A&T 17

October 07, 2007|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special To The Sun

Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley stood in the dressing room after last night's game against North Carolina A&T, exhaled and smiled.

"I'll sleep a lot better tonight," he said.

Hill-Eley loved the poise his Bears showed in rallying from a fourth-quarter deficit to pull out a 22-17 victory over the Aggies in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game before 8,923 at Hughes Stadium. Chad Simpson's 46-yard touchdown run with 4:38 left gave Morgan State the win, but Hill-Eley said the game was about more than that.

"It showed their poise, and it showed the confidence they have in each other," Hill-Eley said. "When we needed the [different] segments to step up, they stepped up."

Simpson played a big role in Morgan State (3-3, 2-1) winning its second straight game. The senior ran for 181 yards on 33 carries, scored both Bears touchdowns and helped Morgan State use up large segments of clock, especially in the second half.

The Bears held a large advantage in time of possession (36:47-23:13). They also gained 453 yards of total offense on 78 plays. North Carolina A&T totaled 334 yards but ran only 51 plays.

"We knew we were going to win," Simpson said. "It was up to us. Honestly, we weren't worried about it."

Morgan State had reason to worry early in the fourth quarter when North Carolina A&T quarterback Shelton Morgan threw a school-record 96-yard touchdown pass to Mike Caldwell for a 17-13 lead with 14:10 left.

North Carolina A&T (0-6, 0-3) was fired up because it appeared closer to ending a 21-game losing streak that stretches back to October 2005, when the Aggies edged Morgan State at FedEx Field.

Lee Fobbs (0-17) is still looking for his first victory as North Carolina A&T coach, but Hill-Eley liked how his Bears remained calm and confident even after Morgan's long touchdown pass.

"They have a very good team," Hill-Eley said. "But we didn't want Cinderella to find her slipper here."

The Bears had a long drive that ended when quarterback Mario Melton fumbled at the North Carolina A&T 4. The Aggies scored the long touchdown the next play. But the Bears came back with a 13-play drive that used up 5:57 and ended with James Meade's 36-yard field goal to cut the Aggies' lead to 17-16 with 8:09 left.

North Carolina A&T then punted, and the Bears needed just five plays to go 85 yards for the winning score. He started left, shifted right and had no trouble running for a touchdown and a 22-17 lead.

Morgan State tried to add to the lead, but Meade's 39-yard field-goal attempt hit the left upright with 1:51 left. That gave the Aggies one more drive, but they went three and out to end the game.

North Carolina A&T's staying so close showed how the Aggies wouldn't quit despite a number of early problems. They fumbled the ball away three times in the first half, but the Bears converted those miscues into only 10 points for a 13-10 lead at the break.

Morgan State often moved the ball easily in the first half but had trouble running at times because the Aggies clogged the inside gaps with a version of Buddy Ryan's old 46 defense. Hill-Eley began using three wide receivers in the second half, which forced North Carolina A&T to play more pass-style defense and opened up the inside.

The Bears went to the option more in the second half, which Melton often used to run for 78 yards on only seven carries. He was 9-for-16 passing for 96 yards.

Melton and Byron Selby alternated at quarterback for the Bears, and both helped in their own way. Selby was 4-for-7 for 34 yards, including a key scramble/shovel pass that kept a fourth-quarter drive alive and eventually led to another Aggies loss.

"We didn't give up," Morgan said. "It just wasn't good enough for a win tonight."

N. Carolina A&T 0 10 0 7-17

Morgan St. 0 13 0 9-22

Second quarter Morg-FG Meade 33, 8:13. NCAT-Ferguson 2 run (Houston kick), 6:59. Morg-FG Meade 27, 3:09. Morg-Simpson 2 run (Meade kick), :47. NCAT-FG Houston 33, :00.

Fourth quarter NCAT-Caldwell 96 pass from Morgan (Houston kick), 14:10. Morg-FG Meade 36, 8:09. Morg-Simpson 46 run (pass failed), 4:38. A-8,923.

NCAT Morg

First downs 11 24

Rushes-yards 34-138 55-323

Passing 196 130

Comp-Att-Int 8-17-0 13-23-1

Return Yards 8 17

Punts-Avg. 7-38.9 4-46.5

Fumbles-Lost 4-3 2-2

Penalties-Yards 9-74 11-111

Time of Possession 23:13 36:47

RUSHING-N. Carolina A&T, Ferguson 15-160, Miller 6-8, Croley 1-4, McNair 1-3, Caldwell 2-2, Parnell 1-(minus 3), Robinson 2-(minus 7), Morgan 6-(minus 29). Morgan St., Simpson 33-181, Melton 7-78, James 9-43, Selby 5-23, Team 1-(minus 2). PASSING-N. Carolina A&T, Morgan 5-11-0-151, Miller 3-6-0-45. Morgan St., Melton 9-16-1-96, Selby 4-7-0-34. RECEIVING-N. Carolina A&T, Walls 4-60, C.Dawson 2-18, Caldwell 1-96, Robinson 1-22. Morgan St., Surratt 5-36, Wolfe 3-34, James 2-27, J.Wilson 1-16, Baptiste 1-9, R.Sykes 1-8.

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