Although Howard receiver Tracy Singleton put his name in the NCAA record books this season, becoming the all-time Division I-AA leader in catches, he couldn't give the Bison what he wanted most -- a championship.
"At the start of the year, I thought we had a very good chance to win the MEAC title. Now we have to beat Morgan State just to finish with a winning record," said Singleton, one of 13 seniors playing their final college football game Saturday at Howard Stadium.
"This is the end for a few of us and we'd rather finish 6-5 instead of 5-6. I'm sure this game means a lot more to some of us than others, but I hope everyone plays as hard as he can. We know we didn't accomplish a lot of the things we hoped to this season, but a win over Morgan State (4-6) would send us out a winner."
Defeating the Baltimore team in what is the oldest black-college rivalry in the nation, dating to 1889, won't be an easy task.
Howard Coach Floyd Keith, who has beaten the Bears two of the past three years, said, "Despite our record, we've accomplished some things and I know the guys want to go out with a winning record."
Many Bison were upset by last week's 22-17 loss to Western Illinois, whose coaching staff announced its resignation three weeks ago and which, because of injuries, started a fourth-string quarterback and two third-stringers who hadn't played before.
Howard led, 17-3, midway in the second period before falling apart.
"One play here, one play there and we lost it," said Keith. "Anytime you have four turnovers inside your 50, I don't care who you play, you're going to be in trouble. Our problem all year has been our own self-destruction," said Keith.
"My players didn't quit (last week). Mistakes, and mistakes by different people, killed us. The one thing we don't want to do Saturday is help Morgan."
Except for brief periods, Howard has struggled all season. Its defense, easily victimized early in the year, improved, but the offense didn't. If quarterback Sandy Nichols had not been sacked a total of 51 times, 11 against Western Illinois, the junior would be the team's leading rusher. Nichols is the conference's top-ranked passer, completing 100 of 198 throws for 1,480 yards and nine touchdowns.
Morgan State, which dropped out of the MEAC three years ago in favor of an independent schedule, has played well at times this year. The Bears were swamped at Cincinnati last week, 52-0, but defeated CIAA leader Virginia Union, 12-7, the week before.
Singleton needs 104 yards to surpass 1,000 yards gained on receptions for the third straight year. He has caught 55 passes, five of which have been for touchdowns . . . Morgan holds a 31-13-3 series advantage over Howard.