The Howard University offense, which took an expected leave of absence early in the season, is back, and as a result the Bison have a three-game football winning streak going into their final game against Morgan State Saturday in Baltimore.
Bison coach Dough Porter is quick tor credit much-improved quarterback Brian Thomas with putting new life into the offense, but he also is pleased to announce the biggest weapon has been the kicking of freshman Howard Ward.
"He's been a big plus for us," Porter said. "His confidence has grown each week, and he works at it. We shouldn't have to worry about our kicking game for the next three years."
Ward, from Winston-Salem, N.C., had his finest day as a kicker last week, booming field goals of 49 and 33 yards in addition to three extra points as Howard bombed North Carolina Central, 33-0.
"I really feel good. A few weeks ago, I asked the coach if I could practice kicking in the game situations rather than at the other end of the field alone, Ward said. "He agreed, and it has paid off. I missed a few early in the year because I was nervour, but I went back to working on my form and concentrating and I began to improve."
Ward who has converted six of 12 field-goal attempts and 15 of 20 extra points, is confident of his consistency from 45 yards in.
Ward is hopeful he'll get an opportunity to break the 12-year-old school record of 53 years by Nixon Asmoni.
"We'd like him to take a shot at it Saturday," Porter said, "but if not, there's no doubt he'll do it before he leaves."
Ward feels one reason he has been more effective the last few games is because he no longer handles all of the punting duties. Mark Thomas and Ward now split that chore.
"Both average about the same (37 yards), so if we can save Howard for just the place kicking, that's fine all around," Porter said. "Howard also does the kicking off."
The Morgan State Bears hold a 26-12-2 edge in their series with the Bison, but they have fallen on hard times. They are 3-6-1, giving up 34 points per game. Defensive backs Kevin Slade and Joe Fowlkes are the team's leading tacklers.
The two bright spots have been the running of Lloyd McCleave (759 yards and eight TDs) and the passing of Allen Rose (74 of 183 for 1,086 yards and nine TDs).