Howard University got its faltering footall act together in a big way yesterday at RFK Stadium. The Bison overwhelmed Delaware State, 49-7, bringing their season record to 2-2-l before a homecoming crowd of 11,000.
"What we did was play our kind of football without giving them any help," said Howard Coach Floyd Keith, whose team had spotted early advantages to opponents in each of the last two games, then struggled unsuccessfully in the later quarters.
"We made them earn what they got, and we didn't turn the football over to them," Keith added.
Humiliated, 42-25, last week by Florida A&M, Howard ran and passed almost at will yesterday against the hapless 'hornets, while the Bison defense managed to squelch all but one State drive. Only twice in the contest did Howard punt, those kicks coming in the fourth quarter.
When it ended, the Howard offense had produced 515 yards against 225 for Delaware State.
"Our defense fell a little bit last week but they came back and did a solid job this week," observed Keith.
Howard dominated the game so totally that Keith took out the first string with the score 49-7, just before the end of the third quarter.
Quarterback Ron Wilson completed eight of 14 passes for three touchdowns, one a 65-yarder to tight end Wallace Mason 2 minutes 17 seconds into the third quarter for his second touchdown of the day. With 4:23 remaining in the first quarter, Wilson, passing over the middle from his 33, found Mason open on the five.
Throughout the week, Keith had drilled his players on fundamentals, in the belief that it was mistakes and penalties as much as anything that produced the last two Howard losses.
Clearly, there is still work to be done in that area. The Bison were assessed 132 yards on 12 penalities, a statistic that could have been decisive against a stronger opponent.
As it was, only once, early in the first quarter did it appear that an evenly matched contest was possible.
Electing to receive the opening kickoff, Howard put the ball in play on its 16 after Robert Artisst took the kick deep in his own end zone and ran it back 20 yards.
Eight plays and four minutes later, in an offensive drive that hinted at what was in store the rest of the afternoon. Howard scored and kicker Howard Ward easily converted, the first of seven extra points he would slam through without a miss.
Quarterback Wilson, adroitly mixing a passing and running attack, had moved tghe ball to the Delaware State 44. On the next play, he pitched out to halfback Ivan Thompson, who raced around right end and into the end zone to start the rout.
With 70 yards on eight carries, Thompson was Howard's leading rusher. Tailback Barron Harmon of Delaware State led all rushes with 74 yards on five carries.
After Howard's first score, it appeared that Delaware Stgate would strike right back. The Hornets' Clarence Weathers took Ward's kickoff deep in his end zone and threaded his way through Howard defenders to the Bison 48. On the next play, quarterback Samuel Warren picked up five yards on a keeper and Howard was called for a face-mask violation.
That gave Delaware the ball on the Howard 29, in potential scoring position, and it appeared the Bison might again be helping their opponents in every way possible.
But, on the next three downs, the defense held Delaware to only six yards. When the Hornets elected to go for it on fourth and four at the 23, fullback Anthony Beamon was thrown for a two-yard loss, and Howard took possession.
Ten plays later,, Howard scored again and the outcome was never in serious doubt after that. With 9:20 remaining in the second quarter, Howard made it 21-0 when fullback Jeff Owens gathered in a Wilson pass from three yards out, capping a drive that was highlighted by Mason's one-handed grab of a Wilson pass for a 21-yard gain to the Delaware State 29.
Then it was State's turn for a moment in the sun. On first and 10 at his 35, tailback Harmon found a hole in the middle of the line, cut to his right and ran 48 yards before being brought down on the Howard 14. A pass-interference call against Howard's Chris Jackson two plays later set the stage for Delaware's only score. It came when tailback Johnny Rowe slammed off the right side on third down with only inches to go. It was the first touchdown scored on the ground by Delaware State all year.
It was also, by that time, irrelevant.