Howard lost a 33-24 football decision today to arch-rival Morgan State, even though the Bison did not have to punt all afternoon.
Everytime Howard got its hands on the ball it either scored or turned it over. The Bison gave up the ball nine times.
The Bison recovered from a 26-7 halftime deficit and were seemingly on their way to a delightful comeback victory until Morgan State quarter-back Alan Rose pulled his final magic act if this Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game.
Rose connected with Curtis Henderson on a 49-yard touchdown play with seven minutes remaining, Howard defender Herman Redden tipping the ball near the Howard 20. Nevertheless, Henderson caught the pass for the touchdown that Howard coach Doug Porter would call his team's backbreaker.
When Ramon Wright kicked the conversion, it was 33-24 and Morgan had its first win since mid-season.
A good half-hour later, still with memories of Ross scoring two touchdowns on option plays and surpassing Morgan's one-season passing record, Porter encountered the 6-foot-1 senior in the hallway outside the Howard locker room.
"Let me shake your hand again, Allen," Porter said, "I'm glad to see you're graduating."
Rose calls 90 per cent of his plays without a huddle.
We do it to keep the defense off guard," Rose said. "We don't give them time to get in a huddle and discuss the defense. I call the plays on the line of scrimmage."
Porter called the touchdown pass "the play that broke our back." But three downs earlier, Morgan had faced second and 13 at its 20, only a few seconds after Howard Ward's 36-yard field goal brought Howard within 26-24 with 9:37 to play.
Rose said he called an option play left. Howard tackle Leonard Stephens had a shot at Rose in the backfield, but missed. Then Rose cut inside, hurried two tacklers and wound up with a 12-yard gain. He sneaked for the first down the next play.
Asked about the impact of the second-down scramble, Porter said, "I didn't comment about that one because he had been doing that all day."
Rose finished with 54 yards rushing in 19 carries and completed 11 of 24 passes for 179 yards. In one touch-down drive, he made first downs from third and 16, second and 10, third and 10 and third and nine.
Howard came into the game with a 5-4 record and a three game winning streak since sophomore Brian Thomas became Howard's startling quarter-back. Today, he was intercepted five times in 19 passes and gave up two of Howard's four lost fumbles.
"The first half was like a nightmare. The mistakes we made put us in a position it was about impossible to come back from," Porter said. "But we almost did."
Howard did it scoring three of the first four times it got the ball in the second half, on two one-yard Thomas runs and Ward's field goal. The Bison did it with the ball-control offense that was their original game plan. Fullback James Breakfield gained 111 yards and tailback Gary Madden gained 86 in helping Howard to its best rushing day of the season, 201 yards.
And, as much as anything else, Howard did not get any breaks today. The Bison fumbled four times, and lost all four. Morgan, which broke a five-game lossing streak to finish 4-6-1, fumbled five times, but lost only two.
Symbolic of Howard's luck was the touchdown that put the Bears ahead, 26-7, on the final play of the first half. Three plays earlier, linebacker Earl Thomas intercepted at the Howard 45 with 29 seconds remaining. He scrambled left, and fumbled when hit at the three-yard line. Lloyd McCleave recovered in the end zone for the touchdown.