South Carolina State, in its quest for a fourth consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference crown, overcame an early Howard lead and trounced the Bison today, 41-16.

Howard coach Doug Porter felt his club had to score early to win. The Bison did their early part by capitalizing on a State fumble and a punt blocked by Howard's Milton Burwell to take a 9-0 lead.

James Breakfield scored on a two-yard run and Howard Ward booted a 32-yard field goal.

But S.C. State roared back with 28 second-quarter points, intercepting two Howard passes, recovering one fumble and holding the Bison to 10 yards on 17 carries during the remainder of the half.

State's first score came with 14:51 remaining in the half. Nate Rivers swept right on third down, but was hit by a Howard player and, fumbled. Running back Ricky Anderson recovered the ball in the end zone for the Bulldog's scores.

A few minutes a later, halfback Charles Burgess, who had victimized the Bison with four touchdowns, in two previous games, scored on a 76-yard run after taking a pitchout from Jesse Prather. Malcolm Montgomery added the extra point, and State led, 14-9.

Howard, 1-2, played exceptionally well in the first quarter, making punishing tackles on defense and mixing its plays well on offense. But on its next serious of plays after State's second score, the Bison fell a yard short of a first down, then seemed to go flat.

The Bison, trailing 28-9 at the half, came to life briefly after halftime as freshman Ronald Wilson directed a 10-play, 46-yard drive. Wilson scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak to close the Bulldog lead to 28-16.

But State, 3-0, geared up its scoring machine again in the fourth quarter, as Anderson ran 32 yards for a touchdown with 9:32 remaining and Montgomery, who had two field-goal attempts blocked earlier, successfully made kicks of 36 and 34 yards, the last with two seconds remaining for the final margin.

"If this had been a more seasoned team," said Porter, "we might have been able to do something. I'm not saying we might have won, but in about two years this team will develop the type of caliber I would like to see.

"I was impressed by the opportunities we created in the opening quarter, but we did not do as well in the second half," Porter added.