Howard University's roller coaster season took another dip today as surprising North Carolina A & T buried the Bison, 29-0, behind quarterback Roland Myers' deft leadership in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game.
Howard, 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the MEAC, suffered its worst loss ever to the Aggies in dropping its fourth game in its last five contests. Coach Floyd Keith, happy two week ago after his club played well against Delaware State and Florida A & M in successive games, now can only wonder when the Bison's fortunes will turn up again.
"We've got such a young team," he said. "We've got guys who don't practice until Thursday because of injury. We'll try to make the best of the season now.
"We were down (13-0) so early. After our first three series, we never got to our game plan."
North Carolina A & T had a 26-0 lead at the half, devastating the Bison quickly with a 213-3 rushing advantage before intermission. Operating an inspired power-I offense, Myers, playing with a broken thumb and bad ankle, gained 74 yards on five carries that half. Running backs Wayman Pitts and Lonnie Harris added 60 and 59 yards, respectively.
A & T's massive defensive front of Ulysses Thompson (6 feet 5, 240 pounds), James Williams (6-7, 245) and Leon Byrd (6-4, 240) suffocated Howard's running game. When the Bison tried to pass, the Aggies stunted and blitzed in painful fashion for quarterback Brian Thomas, who was sacked nine times for minus 68 yards.
Thomas, replacing injured Ronald Wilson, was still stunned from the beating after the game. He kept shaking his head, as if in disbelief, and said, "I'm so tired."
A & T (3-4, 1-1) rests its offensive hopes on Myers, a 5-11, 175-pound junior who has played in only three games this season because of injury.
After Keith James kicked his first of three field goals for a 3-0 Aggie lead in the opening period, Myers led his club on an eight-play, 57-yard drive on its next possession for a touchdown. The key plays in the drive: Myers' 18-yard pass to Frank Carr and Myers' 11-yard scramble deep in Howard territory.
Charles Sutton scored from the one for a 10-0 margin with 12 minutes gone.
"I don't mind the injuries," Myers said. "It never hurts when I score. It even feels good when we win."
Following the Sutton score, the Aggies dealt Howard a series of painful blows, knocking the Bison out before halftime. First, cornerback Gerald Johnson anticipated a Thomas pass, intercepted the ball and raced 28 yards to the Howard 27. James kicked a 35-yard field goal just before the first quarter ended.
On Howard's next drive, the Bison moved to the Aggie 36, but Frankie Chesson's sack of Thomas on a blitz ended the threat. Myers got the Aggies right back to the other end of the field, culminating an 82-yard drive with a 52-yard scamper for a 20-0 lead eight minutes before halftime.
On the play, Myers faked Sutton, into the line then ran right to daylight.
The Howard band, playing a joyful tune when the play began, came to an unharmonious halt as Myers raced into the end zone.
After that, Keith abandoned running, and Thomas connected on 17 of 30 passes for 229 yards. Penalties, sacks and Howard Ward's two missed field goal attempts, however, prevented Howard from saving face with at least a score.