Jeff Roberts got a rare second chance yesterday and booted a 27-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in the game to lift the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore over Howard University, 23-21, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Hawk Stadium.
Roberts, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound freshman from Miami, had missed a 33-yard attempt two minutes earlier.
"I was crying after that first miss," said Roberts, who played soccer in high school. "I hit it (the first one) good but it hooked to the left. I was just hoping for a second chance."
Roberts got that opportunity when Howard's Raymond Gray, the third quarterback used by Coach Doug Porter, was smacked from behind by Ed Williams on an attempted option play and fumbled at his 23. Ed Jackson, who also with Williams game the Bison fits all afternoon, fell on the loose ball with 1:12 to play.
Two running plays moved the ball to the 15 and Roberts trotted on for his game-winner.
Roberts never should have gotten another chance. Howard, down 14-0 with just 4 1/2 minutes elapsed in the first period, stormed back on the running of Leonard Orr to take a 21-20 lead with 6:35 left to play.
Howard split end Fitz Fowler made a juggling, diving catch in the end zone of a pass from Gray to tie the contest at 20-20. Howard Ward's third conversion kick was perfect and Howard led for the only time.
"The mistakes that players will make in their first game put us behind in the beginning," said Porter. "They (UMES) played like a team playing their third game of the season."
The Hawks (1-2), in whipping the Bison for the first time in six years, went backward almost as often as they went forward. They were called for 196 yards on 16 penalties and often looked confused.
"We just tried to do the best we could. The officials, well . . . , we did what we could," said Joe Redmond, the Hawks' coach, who called the referee over to the side for explanations several times. "We were keyed up in the beginning and got off to that good start. Against Howard and Porter, you have to do a lot praying during the week."
UMES, which gained 276 yards, 202 through the air, got two quick breaks to put Howard in the hole. Greg Scott fumbled the opening kickoff and UMES' Derrick Wright recovered at the Howard 14.
Greg Stephens rifled a perfect strike to James LeSan for the touchdown and Roberts booted the extra point.
Howard handled the next kickoff but three plays later Brian Thomas was intercepted by Mike Butler at the Bison 35.
Aided by two penalties against Howard, UMES scored again, Carl Hardaway going over from the one. Roberts' kick was perfect and Howard trailed 14-0.
The Bison got on the board with 33 second left in the opening period on Thomas' three-yard run around the end. Ward's kick cut the deficit to 14-7.
The Bison used nearly 10 minutes to march 71 yards to tie the game. Ron Wilson replaced Thomas and ran Orr (85 yards on 24 carries) off tackle and threw quick outs to flanker Steve Wilson (four catches for 25) to march Howard downfield. Wilson drove over from the one and Ward's conversion tied the game with 5:25 left in the first half.
"We got a little complacent after getting that big lead," said WMES tight end Andre Armwood, "Just a temporary mental let down!"
Armwood certainly didn't have any letdowns. The swift 6-3, 195-pound senior came right back and took a short pass across the middle and outran the Bison secondary to complete a 54-yard pass-run play that put UMES ahead, 20-14, with 2:13 in the third quarter.
Tony Prince blocked the extra-point try.
After a fake punt by the Hawks netted only two yards, Howard took over at the UMES 48. Six running plays later Gray dashed into the end zone from 11 yards out, but the play was called back because of a clip. Cornelius Quarrels got 10 yards back on a draw play, then Gray found Flowler in the end zone for the touchdown.
"I put Gray in because we weren't getting the kind of production we wanted from either Thomas or Wilson," said Porter. "We solved most of our pass-defense problems but this loss was no fluke. They were a good aggressive team."