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Bison Stumble Out of The Gate

In Opener, Howard Falls to Alabama St.: Alabama State 27, Howard 12

By Neal Ruhl
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, September 5, 2004; Page E13

DETROIT, Sept. 4 -- The stage was set for a memorable day for the Howard Bison. A crowd of 45,713 filled Ford Field, the Howard band was ready to keep them entertained at halftime, and many players had hometown friends and relatives in attendance.

Then the game began, and it turned into a day the Bison would like to forget.


Alabama State quarterback Tarvaris Jackson throws a 48-yard pass to wide receiver Clayton Harris. (Duane Burleson - AP)

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Howard turned over the ball five times and fell to Alabama State, 27-12, Saturday in the second annual Detroit Football Classic, the season opener for both teams.

Bison quarterback Marcos Moreno completed 10 of 20 passes for 176 yards, but threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. Running back Roland Colbert had 15 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown but also lost two fumbles.

That was the kind of game it was for the Bison, who at one point in the third quarter turned over the ball on three consecutive possessions.

"I don't want to take anything away from them -- they are a great football team -- but it was a lack of execution on our part," Howard Coach Ray Petty said. "We lost focus, and we put the ball on the ground. Our defense did a great job of keeping them out of the end zone, but we had too many turnovers."

The Hornets, who won last year's Detroit Classic, capitalized on two turnovers with Anthony Johnson kicking a pair of field goals for a 20-6 lead.

Tavaris Jackson and Keldrick Williams paced Alabama State's offense. Jackson threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns, and Williams had 19 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown.

Alabama State led 14-6 at the half.

With 33 seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Hornets went up 14-0 when Jackson heaved a 48-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to a cutting Clayton Harris, who was not the intended receiver.

Bison cornerback Ronald Bartell, a Detroit native, made a first-quarter interception but was out-jumped by Lorenzo Hoffman for the Hornets' final score, a 21-yard strike with 5 minutes 11 seconds left.

"It was a great experience to play here, but I am disappointed that we didn't win," Bartell said. "I'm not even thinking about my family being here, I'm just thinking about how we lost the game."

Jarahn Williams caught four passes for 110 yards for Howard.

The Bison will travel to Hampton, Va., to take on the Pirates next Saturday at 6 p.m.

"The city of Detroit was first class all the way," Petty said. "This was a great experience for Howard University."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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