Wasted chances costly for Bears

hampton 17, morgan state 13

November 23, 2008|By Todd Karpovich | Todd Karpovich,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Morgan State's dream of capturing a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship ended with last week's loss to South Carolina State, but the Bears still had much at stake in yesterday's season finale against visiting Hampton.

The Bears, nonetheless, squandered another huge defensive effort and fell to Hampton, 17-13, despite giving up only 167 total yards. Morgan State blew opportunities to finish with a winning conference record for the first time since 2003 and to have its third winning season in almost 30 years.

"We contribute to our losses. We contribute to our demise," Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "Everything they got, we gave them. We have got to get to the point where players make plays. As a team, after you work all week, you have to look out for each other."

Bears running back Devan James, who leads the MEAC with 111.4 rushing yards per game, finished with 112 on 25 carries. Morgan State (6-6, 4-4 MEAC) had 279 total yards and led the time of possession 35:11 to 24:29.

The Bears' defense ranks second in the Football Championship Subdivision, allowing just 125.6 yards per game. The defense struck again yesterday when Darren McKhan recovered a fumble from Hampton's 34-yard line and increased Morgan State's lead to 10-0 with 7:58 left in the first half.

We feel like every time we are on the field we need to make a play," McKhan said. "We are trying to get a turnover or a three and out to help the offense."

One of the challenges going into the contest was shutting down Pirates quarterback Herbert Bynes, who entered as the conference's leading passer with 268 yards per game. Bynes was not a factor for much of the game, but his first complete pass wound up being one of the biggest of the day when he hit Dyrii McCain for a 38-yard touchdown with 12:54 left and gave Hampton its first lead, 17-10.

After a field goal by James Meade, Morgan State got down to the Hampton 10-yard line with 45 seconds left, but a pass by Mario Melton on fourth down was broken up by Ricardo Kemp.

"We definitely didn't prepare to be .500. We prepared to be MEAC champions," Hampton coach Jerry Holmes said. "With the guys that are left, we have to go back and correct our mistakes to put ourselves in a position to win a championship."

Hampton (6-5, 5-3) relied on its running game to pick at Morgan State and take time off the clock. Morgan State entered the game ranked 13th among FCS teams against the run, allowing 92 yards per game, but Pirates running back Dennis Mathis finished with 137 yards on 34 carries.

With the offense unable to score, the Pirates tied the game at 10 when Kemp intercepted Melton and ran 76 yards for the score in the first half. The Bears' three quarterbacks threw 19 interceptions this season, which accounted for 457 yards for rival teams.

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