Howard University overcame mistakes, penalties and what Bison Coach Doug Porter termed "gross incompentence on the part of the officials" to salvage a dull, 17-6 victory over Hampton Institute in a nonconference game yesterday.
"It's amazing. I've been in coaching since 1954 and I've never seen a game like this one," said Porter, who is in his fifth year at Howard. "We got almost paranoid after a while. There were two or three calls that I could see no justification for."
Howard was hit with 16 penalties for 195 yards, six of the yellow flags being dropped in the final 15 minutes. Two bisons players, linebacker Thomas Clark and cornerback Teddy Robinson, were with the Pirates camped at the Bison five-yard line.
Howard, on the strength of a one-yard touchdown run by Ron Wilson, a four-yard burst by Beeman Veasley and a 41-yard field goal by Howard Ward, held a 17-6 lead with six minutes left in the third period.
Hampthon, which has not beaten Howard in the last 10 years and has been outscored, 258-65, over that period, recovered one of two fumbles at the Bison 37 with 13:15 left.
What happened in the next three minutes had the slim crowd of 1,630 in stitches and the Bison bench in an uproar. On a third-and-eight play, Howard was called for pass interference in the end zone some 10 seconds after the ball had slipped through the hands of Hampton's Glenn Johnson.
Clark, called for the infraction, rushed up to the official, who immediately banished the distrust player to the bench. An unsportsmanlike-conduct call moved the ball to the five and two plays later Robinson was called for a personal foul and ejected.
"Teddy asked me what was the flat for and the ref put him out," said defensive tackle Thomas Spears. "He never said a cuss word or anything to the ref. We couldn't do anything out there. We knew the flags were coming."
After Robinson's ejection, the Bison defense rose up and stopped Hampton cold on the next two plays to kill that threat. Spears sacked quarterback Jenson Baker on a fourth-down play as he attempted to roll out and pass.
Howard took over at the five but three penalties and an eight-yard loss by quarterback Brian Thomas brought up a punt.
Hampton marched back to the Bison 36, but Spears recovered a Donnell Jones Fumble with two minutes left and the Pirates were through for the afternoon.
Howard, now 3-4 could not place all the blame on the officials for its performance. The Bison gained 345 yards, 295 of that rushing, but wasted several excellent chances to blow open the game.
On their first possession, the Bison drove to the 25-yard line before two Ronald Wilson passes fell incomplete. Two other Howard drives were stopped by interceptions.
Veasley, the Bison running star with 120 yards on 22 carries, and Leonard Orr, with 67 yards on 17 attempts, had no trouble with the outmanned Pirate defensive line. The two weeks continually broke off long gainers and would have had considerably more yards except for Howard holding penalties.
On Howards first scoring drive, which covered 60 yards, Orr and Veasley carried the ball seven of the nine plays. Wilson went in from the one and Howard Ward booted the extra point to give Howard a 7-0 lead with 3:50 left in the opening period.
Hampton took advantage of a Wilson interception to score its only touchdown. Pirate linebacker Rex Perry picked off the pass at the Howard 20.Hampton used six running plays and a pass-interference call against Howard to score, Carl Turner going in from a yard out.
Mark Thomas blocked the conversion kick to preserve a 7-6 lead with 7:47 left before halftime.
Perry picked off a Thomas pass three minutes later and jogged 13 yards to the end zone for an apparent Pirate touchdown. But a flag (Hampton was called for nine penalties for 83 yards) nullified the score.
With 1:08 left in the first half, Ward's 41-yard field goal at the end of an 80-yard drive gave Howard a 10-6 lead.
With 1:08 left in the first half, Ward's 41 yard field goal at the end of an 80-yard drive gave Howard a 10-6 lead.
"I wasn't satisfied with our continuity on offense, but the kids kept their poise," said Porter. "Wilson had a bad finger and we brought in Thomas. He pulled off a couple of big plays for us to keep us going."
On the Bison's 90-yard 23-play drive that resulted in Veasley's TD run, Thoams picked up first downs twice on sneaks.
Howard came up with a fourth-and-goal at the Pirate 10 but Ward's attempted 27-yard field goal was wide. However, a penalty was called against Hampton and Porter sent his offensive unit back in. Veasley went over from the four to give Howard a 17-6 cushion with 5:34 left in the third period.
"The game was tight at that point and we decided to go for the score to get some breathing room," said Porter. "That score took a lot out of them."