All three Howard quarterbacks made significant contributions and the Bison capitalized on a fourth-quarter mistake by Morgan State punter Arnold Clinton to defeat the Golden Bears, 35-32, today in a renewal of the oldest rivalry in black college football history.
Senior quarterback Raymond Gray passed for one touchdown and ran for another, sophomore Sandy Nichols scored on a one-yard sneak and freshman Brian Sloan, playing most of the second half, scored on a six-yard run as the Bison finished their season with five victories in their last six games. This is the first time Howard (7-4) has had back-to-back winning seasons since 1974-75.
In a sloppily played game that included 19 penalties, nine fumbles and four interceptions, Clinton made the biggest error.
With the score 29-29 after Morgan's David Booker kicked a 27-yard field goal with 12:35 remaining, the Bears took over at the Howard 49 following Perky Warner's punt. On fourth and 14, the Bears (4-5) sent Clinton back to punt.
The snap was low and Clinton could not handle it. Instead of trying to recover the ball in the face of the oncoming rush, he tried to kick it as it spun on the ground. The 15-yard penalty for an illegal kick gave the Bison a first down at the Bear 22.
"He did the only thing he thought he could," said Morgan Coach Tom Morris. "He saw it on the ground and tried to kick it, but you can't do that."
Freshman tailback Melvin Sutton, who had his best statistics of the season with 145 yards on 17 carries, moved the ball to the nine with two rushes. Jeff Owens (61 yards in 11 rushes) scored on the next play to give the Bison a 35-29 lead with 7:47 remaining.
Morgan's next drive ended with a 38-yard field goal by Booker, and its last drive was halted with 1:24 left as Chris Jackson intercepted Daryl Brown's fourth-down pass at the Howard 35.
Brown, a junior from Annapolis, was starting because Darrell Coulter, who holds all the Morgan State passing records, tore knee ligaments in practice two weeks ago. Brown rushed for 71 yards on 16 carries, but his passing, five of 18 with three interceptions, hurt the Bears when they fell behind and needed to gain yards quickly.
Morgan State, 31-14-3 leader in the series which dates back to 1899, took a 13-0 lead before Howard was able to run a play. The Bears' James Field (145 yards in 25 carries) scored on a three-yard run, then Brown scored from the three two plays after Sutton misplayed the ensuing kickoff.
Nichols injured his back, although not seriously, on Howard's first series. Gray replaced him and threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Robert Artisst.
After Brown passed to Guy Goodwin for 53 yards to set up the quarterback's one-yard touchdown run for a 19-6 lead, Howard rallied to take a 19-19 tie into intermission.
Gray scored on a one-yard run and ran for a two-point conversion, then Robert Forte's 59-yard interception return set up the yard run by Nichols with 26 seconds left in the half. Nichols returned for that one play because Gray had twisted his ankle.
Except for an interception Gray threw on the first play of the second half, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by Fields, Sloan quarterbacked the rest of the game for the Bison. His touchdown scramble with 10:06 left in the third quarter gave the Bison a 29-26 lead.