Howard found another way to lose a football game yesterday.
The mistake-prone Bison, who have had problems scoring all year, saw an opportunity for victory backfire on them when Norfolk State's Glen Jones raced 79 yards with a blocked field goal attempt late in the game for a 19-12 victory before 15,000 homecoming fans at RFK Stadium.
Howard lost its fifth straight game. Its 1-7 start is its worst since 1967. Norfolk State is 4-4.
With the score 12-12, Bison quarterback Brian Sloan, playing in relief of ineffective freshman Kenny Jones (two of 10 for 12 yards, three sacks), had taken the Bison to the Norfolk State 14 with just over six minutes left in the game. But Norfolk State held and the Bison lined up for a 31-yard field goal attempt.
Ordinarily, this would have been a chip shot for junior Jon Nicolaisen. But he had injured his left ankle when he was knocked down by Jones, who blocked a 35-yard attempt in the first quarter. Freshman Greg Pinckney, who handled the place kicking at Annapolis High School last year, lined up for his first kick of the season.
Arnold Pate, part of a strong rush, blocked the kick before the ball got a foot off the ground. Three Spartans were around the ball, but Jones scooped it up and ran untouched for the winning score. Barefoot kicker Dale Brower converted, and State led, 19-12, with 6:29 to play.
"The kicking game was the deciding factor," said dejected Howard Coach Joe Taylor. "Kicking is one-third of the game. That field goal was like a conversion, but we missed it. Tough . . . "
State Coach Dick Price, celebrating his school's first victory in three games against Howard and the third victory in 27 games by a Division II CIAA school against Howard, said the "block was definitely on because of the new kicker."
"We knew they had a good kicker (Nicolaisen) but we didn't know much about the other guy (Pinckney)," Price said. "So we put our block play on. I think the loss of Nicolaisen in both the punting and place-kicking game hurt them."
Howard trailed, 12-0, when Taylor removed Jones. Sloan (nine of 24 for 164 yards) picked up the lethargic offense, leading two touchdown drives that tied the game.
Sloan ran seven yards on a broken play to cap a 71-yard drive and cut the Spartans' advantage in half, 12-6, with 4:37 left in the first half. Despite his injury, Nicolaisen attempted a conversion kick that was blocked.
A jarring tackle by linebacker George Gardner forced a fumble on the Spartans' next possession and Howard took over at the visitors' 39. A pass interference call moved them inside the 10. Three plays later, Herbert White made a diving catch of a 20-yard pass from Sloan to tie the game at 12, with 2:05 left in the half.
Sloan tried to run for a two-point conversion but was smothered at the two.
Sloan was off target most of the second half and the Bison couldn't accomplish much. "I was inconsistent, and for that reason, we lost," Sloan said. "I don't mind coming in to relieve anyone. You have to be ready to play all the time."
Norfolk State had its way for the first 20 minutes in taking a 12-0 lead.
On the Spartans' third possession, they drove from their 34 to the Howard five before Browder made a 23-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead midway in the first period.
Nicolaisen was injured as he attempted to tie the score. The Spartans then went 84 yards in four plays.
A 49-yard tackle-breaking run by Phil Smith preceded a 28-yard scoring pass from Wille Gillus to Orlando Brown that made it 9-0 with 1:06 to play in the quarter.
Danny Brinkley, who took over the punting for Nicolaisen, kicked straight up, for a net loss of five yards to the Howard 20. The Spartans moved to the eight before settling for a 25-yard field goal by Browder and a 12-0 lead with 8:46 left in the second quarter.