Howard parlayed 100-yard rushing performances by Ray Cryer and Greg Banes into the school's second-best offensive total in its history in stampeding Maryland-Eastern Shore, 38-20, yesterday at Howard.
"I just want to give you guys one number," Bison Coach Floyd Keith said in the jubilant locker room. "Three hundred and 32 yards rushing!"
That was good news for the ball control-minded Bison, who more than doubled their opening-game victory production against West Virginia State.
Another Howard theme has been fourth-quarter play. The Bison passed that test admirably, piling up 21 points. Split end Greg Scott's 59-yard punt return for a touchdown highlighted the final period and lifted Howard into a 24-14 lead that was never threatened.
Howard's defense provided the bad news. Arm-tackling allowed the visitors to run up 411 yards.
"Our tackling was not as good as last week," said Keith. "We had guys a little 'ouchy' from last week, especially our linebackers."
But Keith understandably chose to dwell on the Bison offense. Howard's 475 yards were surpassed only by a 477-yard game four years ago against the same school. The 332 rushing yards are Howard's most in three years.
Cryer, a 180-pound fullback starting his second game, gained 111 yards on 19 carries and scored touchdowns of 17 and 16 yards. Sophomore tailback Banes gained 102 yards on 13 attempts, scoring on runs of seven and three yards.
"The holes were wide open, the biggest I've ever seen," said Cryer. "Anybody could have run through them. You could pick from a number of holes on almost every play. The line was blocking so excellently, I wanted to get up there and block some myself."
But Cryer's real worth was in the backfield. The fullback picked up 24 yards on the first three carries as he and the Bison line established the pattern for the afternoon.
The first Bison drive ended with Howard Ward's wide field goal attempt from the 43.
Eastern Shore (1-2) returned the favor on its first possession when an open Raiford Hursey dropped a pass at the Bison five.
Howard began a quick, surgical march from its 11-yard line late in the first period. Banes' 17-yard run, a 32-yard Ron Wilson-to-Fitz Fowler pass and a facemask penalty against the Hawks set up Cryer's 17-yard scoring run to open the second quarter.
UMES then put together an 83-yard drive of its own. Reginald Ennis (106 yards) scored from the nine, but the Hawks botched the extra-point snap and trailed, 7-6.
The offensive show continued as Howard took the ensuing kickoff and moved 76 yards on five plays to make it 14-6. Scott got loose for a 35-yard pass from Wilson for the big play of that drive, which ended with Banes' seven-yard run.
Late in the second quarter, the Bison offense stalled and Ward came in to punt from midfield. Ward mishandled the snap, picked up the ball and had his kick blocked by Meredith Armwood.
Roger Sawyer grabbed the loose ball and rambled 35 yards for a touchdown to bring the Hawks within 14-12. UMES faked the conversion kick and holder Greg Stephens hit big tight end Anthony Jones with a pass to tie the score at 14 with 57 seconds left.
Ward made it 17-14 with a 37-yard field goal that put the Bison ahead with three seconds left.
Midway through the third quarter, UMES elected to go on fourth and one from the Bison 11, rather than try a chip-shot field goal that would have tied the score. Scott Facyson and Larry Hamilton ruined that strategy when they dropped Ennis for no gain.
Scott's punt return with 26 seconds elapsed in the final period took the heart out of the Hawks. He caught the ball at the hash mark, sprinted to the near sideline, broke one tackle and stiff-armed another Hawk during the 59-yard run.
"It took me three years to break another one," said Scott, a senior who, as a freshman, returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against UMES. "This season we've been hurt by the big plays, but this one of ours hurt them."
An interception and 30-yard run back to the Hawk 34 by Bison defensive back Mike Anderson set up Howard's next-to-last touchdown. Banes ran for 18 yards and Cryer followed a Craig Cason block up the middle for the 16-yard touchdown gallop.
The teams exchanged touchdowns in the last eight minutes. Ennis capped an 80-yard drive with a one-yard run; Banes scored from three yards out to finish Howard's 75-yard drive with 4:05 left.