Howard University was supposed to open its home football season today, but because of a series of administrative delays, the Bison were left without a home field and had to switch the game to the University of Rhode Island.
Maybe that was for the best for Bison fans. Rhode Island scored on its first three possessions and went on to a 46-0 victory before 6,628 at Meade Stadium.
The Bison (0-2) fumbled four times, were intercepted twice, had a punt and a field goal blocked and were penalized 13 times for 105 yards. They also allowed the Rams, who rushed for 11 net yards on 14 attempts last week in a 29-13 loss to Delaware, to gain 132 yards on 37 attempts.
"I think it was worse than last week," said Howard Coach Willie Jeffries in reference to an opening 35-12 loss to Maine. "Every player on this team has to make a total commitment to play his very best, and I don't think that is happening. But we have nine games to go and I'm not ready to throw in the towel. We just need to forget about these two games, although I know you can't wipe what's happened from the record."
Sophomore Dave Morrill rushed for 83 yards and three touchdowns for the Rams (1-1). He carried the attack early, much to the surprise of both Howard and Rhode Island. Before it was over, sophomore quarterback Greg Farland, filling in for injured Division I-AA all-America Tom Arehart, had completed 19 of 41 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
It figured that Rhode Island, which claims to have a strictly passing offense, would have been eager to throw against a secondary that has been unable to stop opposing quarterbacks for the past two years. Instead, the Rams quickly found out how easy it was to run against the Bison.
Howard's biggest error may have come on Rhode Island's first possession. The Rams punted on fourth and six from the Howard 47. But Howard had an extra man in on the play, resulting in a 15-yard penalty and a first down.
The Rams ran six straight times to the Bison six, from where Farland threw a touchdown pass over the middle to tight end Tony DiMaggio.
On Howard's next possession, Ray Williams blocked a punt and Damon Hewlette recovered for Rhode Island on the Howard one. Morrill ran off left tackle on the next play for a 14-0 lead.
After the Bison again failed to move the ball, Rhode Island went 43 yards on seven plays for a 21-0 lead. Morrill carried on each play, finally going over from the two.
"We didn't intend to run that much, but because of what Howard was doing defensively, we kept with it," said Rhode Island Coach Bob Griffin. "They were so conscious of the pass -- so conscious of our two tight ends -- that they left only three men committed to stopping the run. They gave us the run, and we like to think we will take whatever another team will give us."
The Rams gave Howard, which was shut out for the first time in 15 games, very little. Howard quarterback Leon Brown completed nine of 26 passes for 131 yards. Howard's leading rusher, Harvey Reed, carried 10 times for 62 yards.