Greg Banes scored three touchdowns and rushed for 215 yards to lead Howard from 20-6 half-time deficit to a 31-20 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory over North Carolina Central todday.
The win gave the Bison a 5-5 overall mark and a 2-2 league record. Central dropped to 1-3 in the legue. 2-7-1 overall.
"Once our running game got going," said Howard Coach Floyd Keith, "we . . . didn't have to rely on the pass. I talked about our team's character at halftime when we were down. Our kids never quit. We could have easily folded but we didn't."
Banes scored twice from the one and once from the 23 yards out. The 5-foot-10, 176-pound sophomore broke off tackle on the first play of the Bison go-ahead touchdown drive, racing 65 yards to the Cental 15.
Six plays later, Banes took a pitch from quarterback Brian Thomas and scored from the one. Howard Ward's fourth of five conversion kicks put Howard on top, 24-20.
Howard's third quarterback of the day, Raymond Gray, connected with Fiz Fowler on the next Bison possession to put the game out of reach with 1:50 to play.
"I wish I knew what happened to us,' said Central's first-year coach, Henry Lattimore. "Midway through the second quarter, we stopped playing good football -- we stopped too early.
"I guess 17 points was too big of a lead for our guys to deal with. They thought Howard would give up. They didn't. They got tougher and we just couldn't get back in the groove."
Andrew Riddick got the Eagles off to an explosive start with a 91-yard game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown.
With good field position in the first half, N.C. Central drove from its 41 in the second quarter with quarterback Ken Pugh passing to Greg Peaks for the final two yards.
Isaac Hamilton scored for the Eagles in the second quarter on a three-yard drive. It capped an eight-play, 74-yard drive that featured three passes of 20 yards from Pugh to Charles Sanders, who caught nine for 151 yards.
The Bison managed only a 37-yard field goal from Ward in the first half but came up with a touchdown on their second possession after intermission.
Banes' running performance was complemented by teammate Ray Cryer's 106 yards on 12 carries. The Bison rolled up 302 yards rushing to only 82 for Central.