Howard scored on a run, a pass, a safety and a punt return -- and that was just in the first quarter.
The Bison rode the confidence they gained from their big win a week ago to rout Savannah State, 53-7, yesterday in a nonconference game before 5,205 at Greene Stadium.
"It was a great day for us," Coach Ray Petty said.
Quarterback Marcos Moreno, who didn't complete a pass in Howard's 17-10 upset victory over Alcorn State on Sept. 18, threw three touchdown passes yesterday. Two of his scoring throws went to wide receiver Thyron Lewis, a junior college transfer who became eligible two weeks ago.
The emergence of Howard's passing attack did not diminish its ground game. Jay Colbert ran for 135 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries, and Antoine Rutherford carried 11 times for 123 yards. It was the first 100-yard rushing performance by either player this season. However, a third running back, Jamar Smith, sprained his right ankle with 7 minutes 16 seconds remaining and did not return.
Howard's defense continued its strong play from the previous week. The Bison did not allow Savannah State to gain a first down until 39 seconds remained in the first half. They held the Tigers to minus-22 yards in the first quarter and 236 for the game.
The unit also contributed points. Linebacker Mike Sanders sacked quarterback Zach Wilson in the end zone on Savannah State's second drive to record Howard's first safety since Sept. 14, 2002. Carl Alleyne's 97-yard interception return for a touchdown gave Howard a 53-7 lead and was the longest in school history, breaking Louis Sandford's record of 93 yards set in 1967.
"Our goal is to not let the other team score 17 points," Sanders said. "If they don't score, we win."
Howard (2-2) was expected to defeat Savannah State (1-2). The Tigers held the longest losing streak in Division 1-AA (15 games) before they won their season opener. Nonetheless, the Bison's domination in this game was impressive. Howard didn't punt until 4:36 remained in the third quarter. The Bison gained 496 yards in offense and scored four more points than they had in their first three games combined.
Moreno ended his streak of 12 passes without a completion when he connected with Smith on a 13-yard pass four plays into the game. On the first play of the Bison's second drive, Moreno threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Lewis. The catch was Lewis's first for the Bison and Moreno's longest touchdown pass of his career. Moreno finished 9 of 19 for 180 yards.
"My stats have been going down the last three games," Moreno said. "I just wanted to execute."
Said Petty, "I thought Moreno did exceptionally well today."
Savannah State switched quarterbacks twice to no avail. Wilson, a freshman, started the game but was replaced by Clyde Tullis with 2:24 left in the first quarter. Tullis was the Tigers' starter until he injured his right (throwing) shoulder last week. Tullis lasted until 2:09 left in the first half when Wilson replaced him.
A turnover by the Bison set up Savannah State's only scoring drive. Rutherford fumbled the ball on the Howard 11-yard line. Four plays later, Khalil Hasan caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to put the Tigers on the scoreboard.