Reserve quarterback Raymond Gray had three one-yard touchdown runs to lead Howard University to its fourth straight win, a 49-28 victory over Norfolk State.
The Bison (5-3) improved their record against opponents from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association to 22-1. Howard's largest home crowd of the season -- about 9,500 --attended the game.
Freshman Melvin Sutton led the Bison rushers with 77 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. But he was carried from the field on a stretcher after suffering a sprained neck when he was accidentally grabbed by the face mask while covering a kickoff. He was treated and released at Howard University Hospital.
The Spartans (3-4-1), winless in their last five games, could not stop Howard's option running game, yielding 252 yards on the ground to a team that had averaged 115 yards per game. Howard spent additional time on its special teams in practice, and members of the units scored three touchdowns.
Howard led, 21-0, before the Spartans gained a first down.
Fullback Jeff Owens (10 carries for 72 yards) ended Howard's 86-yard opening drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
The Howard punt coverage team set up the second touchdown as Perky Warner's 44-yard punt bounced off the hands of returner Jeff Gunn at the two-yard line, and Jeff Wise fell on the ball for Howard. When starting quarterback Sandy Nichols had trouble with two straight exchanges (one was negated by a penalty), Coach Floyd Keith sent in Gray, who scored with 12:09 left in the half.
Ninety seconds later, five Bison broke through the line on fourth down to drop punter Brian Evans at the Spartan 25. A 21-yard pass from Gray to split end Tracy Singleton (seven receptions for 89 yards) gave the Bison a first down at the one. Sutton ran for a five-yard touchdown, giving Howard a 21-0 lead.
Norfolk State Coach Dick Price decided last week to shake up his team by benching his two leading rushers and starting quarterback. Six minutes into the second period, he abandoned the plan and sent in running backs Orlando Goodhope and Stanley Allbritton and quarterback Raynard Revels.
Allbritton immediately carried twice for the Spartans' initial first down. With 1:28 to go in the half, he scored on a 10-yard run to cut the deficit to 21-7.
Early in the third quarter, Howard's Matt Jordan recovered a punt blocked by Robert Forte at the Norfolk State 23. The offensive line immediately presented Sutton with a gaping hole up the middle and he went 23 yards for a touchdown and a 28-7 Howard lead.
After Gray scored his second touchdown with 10:26 to go, increasing the lead to 42-14, Revels (11 for 22 for 135 yards) completed touchdown passes of 48 yards to Gunn and 17 yards to Reggie Garrett. With fewer than than 30 seconds remaining, however, Chris Jackson intercepted a pass by Revels and returned it 73 yards to the Spartan one to set up Gray's final score.