Howard's Tracy Singleton established a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference receiving record and Melvin Sutton rushed for a school record four touchdowns today as the Bison defeated Cheyney State, 41-14, in the first annual Wade Wilson Scholarship Classic at Franklin Field.
A crowd estimated at 25,000 watched a mostly one-sided game that was in stark contrast to Howard's opener last week at Maine, when the Bison were drubbed, 38-15. Today, Howard's defense allowed only 64 yards rushing and a total of 231. Last week Howard yielded 383 rushing and 476 yards in all.
"We didn't change anything, we just played the defense better," said Bison Coach Floyd Keith. "We went after them early and that was the key. The kids did their jobs. I didn't like all the penalties (10 for 109 yards) but I liked the score."
Keith was especially pleased with his offense. With good blocking up front, the Bison had 457 yards and 20 first downs and didn't punt once.
Singleton, needing only three catches to surpass Morgan State's Mark Durden's career total of 102, caught seven passes for 105 yards and scored the game's first touchdown. Duke Amayo, who also had field goals of 24 and 37 yards, added the extra point and the Bison led, 7-0, with 6:34 left in the first period.
Sutton rushed for 118 yards on 19 carries and had second half touchdown runs of four, 16, 25 and four yards. His first two scoring runs came in the third period and sent the Bison to a 24-6 lead.
After Cheyney drew within 24-14 with just over 14 minutes reamining, Sutton, running through a tiring defense, scored twice within a minute to break the game open for good. His first touchdown came on a 25-yard trap play up the middle.
Cheyney fumbled the ensuing kickoff and it was recovered by Ben Pynes at the Cheyney eight. Two plays later, Sutton went up the middle and scored from four yards out.
"Talk to the offensive line," Sutton said. "They did all the work."
Not quite. Junior quarterback Sandy Nichols completed 12 of 19 passes for 201 yards. He completed at least one crucial third-down pass or made a long run during every Bison scoring drive.
"We attacked them, that was the big difference," said Bison Linebacker Martin Brown. "We didn't attack Maine. We used the same 4-3 defense and except for a couple of breakdowns on pass coverage, it worked the way it should. As good as we played today, we can play much better."
Cheyney might question that. Unable to do anything on the ground, the Wolves were moderately successful in the air. When he wasn't scrambling for his life, quarterback Pedro Barry completed 15 or 24 passes for 167 yards and one touchdown.
"We wanted to overpower them but we ended up getting overpowered," Barry said. "We always had bad field position and couldn't do what we wanted. We used several different combinations because some guys weren't doing anything."
Cheyney, 2-8 last year, was guilty of several mental mistakes, poor tackling and a breakdown in pass defense. Several long gains were wiped out by penalties, although it seemed highly unlikely they would have made any difference.
"We just broke down," said Wolves' Coach Andy Hinson. "The quickness factor was very important and we couldn't go to our outside game. In the second half, we just got tired from being on the field so long."
Trailing, 10-6, Cheyney State gave up a 54-yard pass completion from Nichols to Kevin Watkin and watched the Bison score in four plays on Sutton's first touchdown from four yards out to take a 17-6 lead with only 55 seconds elapsed in the third period.
Following a 54-yard punt by George Bethea, the Bison drove 80 yards in 11 plays for another score. Sutton broke a trap play and went 16 yards to the end zone as Howard's lead increased to 24-6.