It didn't matter who played quarterback for Howard yesterday. All the Bison needed was somebody to hand the ball to Jay Colbert.
Colbert rushed for 197 yards and four touchdowns -- both career highs -- in Howard's 35-17 homecoming win over Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival Norfolk State at Greene Stadium. Colbert's 244 all-purpose yards were 16 yards short of his career high.
Howard fans have plenty to celebrate as the team wins and they catch a glimpse of rapper LL Cool J.
(Robert A. Reeder - The Washington Post)
"It feels real good, but you've got to remember we still have three more games left," Colbert said. "More than anything, I just want to win."
The victory was the Bison's fifth in their past six games.
After quarterback Marcos Moreno's four-interception performance in last week's 14-13 overtime loss at North Carolina A&T, Howard Coach Ray Petty replaced Moreno in the starting lineup with senior Antoine Hartfield. Although Hartfield did not turn over the ball, he was too cautious. Too often he took a sack rather than throwing away the ball. Hartfield, who was sacked five times, completed only 2 of 8 passes for 12 yards. By the fourth quarter, Petty returned to Moreno.
"We were going to go back to Moreno sometime during the course of the game," Petty said. "It wasn't wholesale Hartfield all the way. We were going to be sure Moreno got some snaps during the course of the game."
With a tentative quarterback and Norfolk State (1-6, 1-4) stacking defenders at the line of scrimmage, Howard (5-3, 2-2) needed time to get its offense going. But after a few adjustments by the offensive line, it was off to the races for Colbert against the second-worst rushing defense in Division I-AA. The Spartans came into the game allowing 282 rushing yards per game.
The two offensive tackles, Brandon Torrey and Willie Shine, and fullback Kevin Tyson opened up much of the running room. Their strong blocking led to Colbert's outstanding performance.
At 5 feet 8 and 180 pounds, Colbert is too small to power past defenders. Instead, he is shifty ballcarrier. He quick-steps, sidesteps and cuts back until he finds a gap. Most importantly, he has become more patient at waiting for his blocks to develop. Because Norfolk State was sending so many defenders up front, once Colbert scooted past the first line of defense, there was nobody to stop him. His first touchdown run went 72 yards. The next two were 42 and 44 yards. By halftime, he had run for more than 100 yards -- his fourth 100-yard rushing game this season.
"Knowing that they like to pack the box, bring the safeties down, if you do pass the first level, you're looking at six points," Colbert said. "All I was doing was waiting for [the offensive linemen] to get on their block and let [Norfolk State] over-pursue and I headed straight up."
Howard's lone touchdown not scored by Colbert came off a blocked punt in the third quarter. Carl Alleyne -- who had been penalized for roughing the kicker in the second quarter, which led to Norfolk State's first score -- blocked Antonio Gomez's punt from the Norfolk State 21-yard line. Fred Turner landed on the ball in the end zone.
Alleyne "saw something during the course of the week," Petty said. "He said, 'Coach, I can get me a couple.' I said, 'Go for it.' Then when he got the roughing the kicker on the first one then y'all have some questions. But the guy came clean. He was just trying to make a play."
FORDHAM 36, GEORGETOWN 6: Derric Daniels (H.D. Woodson) threw three touchdown passes as the Rams topped the visiting Hoyas (2-5, 0-4 Patriot League).
Daniels, who had an interception returned for a touchdown on the first play of the game, finished 13 of 31 for 145 yards for Fordham (5-3, 2-1).
Michael Ononibaku returned Daniels's interception 30 yards for a 6-0 lead, but the Rams went on to score 36 straight points and out-gain Georgetown, 330-183.
Erik Conroy, Steve Porco and James Caffarello caught touchdown passes for Fordham, and Micah Clukey added three field goals.
EMORY & HENRY 42, CATHOLIC 13: The Cardinals remained winless, falling to 0-8, 0-4 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference with the loss in Emory, Va. The Wasps improved to 3-5, 2-2.
BOWIE STATE 14, JOHNSON C. SMITH 7: Julius Jordan and Caleb Cranke scored as the Bulldogs (5-5, 4-3 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) spoiled the Golden Bulls' homecoming in Charlotte. Johnson C. Smith fell to 0-10, 0-7.