Howard University, trying to shake off last week's disappointing loss to powerful Florida A & M, cruised to a serene 23-0 victory over charitable Delaware State in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game today.
While some Howard players said it took time to forget last week's 21-13 loss, Bison Coach Floyd Keith said, "That had nothing to do with today's game. There were some funny things happening out there on offense. We're not scoring enough points, but what this game proves is that last week wasn't a fluke."
It was the third victory in five games for Bison. They are 2-1 in the conference. Delaware State dropped to 1-3 overall, 0-2 in the MEAC.
In the first half, Howard settled for 10-0 lead despite Delaware State's constant effort to remove itself from contention as early as possible. The Bison intercepted two Hornet fumbles to maintain good field position.
Howard scored with 3:16 left in the first quarter on a 41-yard field goal by Howard Ward. That was set up by Delaware State's fumble at its 28.
The authority with which Ward boomed his field goal made the squandering of Howard's next scoring opportunity puzzling.
Late in the first quarter, Horner quarterback Rod Lester tried his first pass, a quick throw over the line. It was intercepted by Bison linebacker Kenneth Pimpton at the Delaware 40.
Seven plays later, on fourth down, Ward came onto the field, but in punt formation. The snap went to shortman Cedric Wilson, who tried unsuccessfully for a first down.
"I think the coach was trying to make this offense work," Ward said. "Evidently he was confident enough in the outcome of the game to risk losing the three points."
Keith agreed, adding, "I think a touchdown in that situation would give us the momentum."
Howdard did take full advantage of its next opportunity, Hornet running back Anthony Beamon lost control of the ball, without being hit, on an end run. Freshman defensive back Bob Sowell fell on the ball at the Delaware 26.
On the next play, Rufus Outlaw gained five yards and a personal foul on Hornet lineman Donald Robinson moved the ball to the 10. On third down, Bison quarterback Ron Wilson bootlegged into the end zone from the six.
After a diving interception at the Howard one by Sowell in the second quarter, Delaware held Howard deep in its own territory. On fourth down, Hornet Charlie Gibbs blocked Ward's punt and Robinson fell on it at the seven.
However, Delaware State reversed its field, losing 13 yards in three running plays and mishandling the snap on a 27-yard field goal attempt.
At the half Howard had gained 10-4 yards to Delaware's 14. The Hornets had not completed a pass.
"Our offense looked the worst I've ever seen it in the first half," said Howard assistant Ricky Harris.
Wilson added, "We had a lot of key penalties at bad times in the half. You don't sustain drives that way."
At the opening of the second half, the Hornets eclipsed their first half output in two plays. They gained 18 yards, 12 on a pass from Lester to Walter Samual. Two plays later, Howard linebacker Scott Facyson, intercepted a pass at the Hornet 46.
Three minutes later, with Delaware back in possession, Bison tackle Ralph Grimes forced Lester to fumble. Howard tackle Courtney Brown picked up the ball at the Hornet 10.
Two plays later, fullback Ray Cryer burst through the middle to score from the seven for a 16-0 lead. Ward's extra-point kick was wide.
Howard scored its final touchdown with 1:07 remaining, a 47-yard drive culminated by Outlaw's seven-yard run.