North Carolina A&T broke open a tie game with three third-period touchdowns and went on to rout Howard, 40-14, today in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play.
The Bison (1-6 overall and 0-3 in the conference) were riding the momentum of their only victory, but Alan Hooker, A&T's sophomore quarterback, and a fleet corps of receivers proved too much for Howard today.
Hooker completed 22 of 27 passes for 353 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another touchdown as the Aggies (4-4, 1-2) won their fourth straight.
"We didn't play well, but I don't want to take anything away from A&T," said Howard Coach Willie Jeffries. "They called passes, and the passes were thrown well. We were in man coverage on a lot of them and we just couldn't keep up.
"A&T probably could have beaten just about anyone today."
Howard, on the other hand, probably couldn't.
The Howard defense twice denied A&T points inside the Bison 25-yard line in the first quarter. Then quarterback Lee DeBose found Curtis Chappell open on third down for a 52-yard touchdown pass that gave Howard a 7-0 lead with 11:05 left in the half.
But in a similar situation on the Bison's next possession, DeBose gave up an interception as defensive back Chris Barber stepped in front of the receiver at the A&T four. The Aggies then drove 96 yards in seven plays, with the tying touchdown coming on a seven-yard keeper by Hooker.
Aided by an A&T personal foul that negated an interception, Howard moved the ball from its nine to the A&T 28 on its next possession. But as time expired in the first half, Howard senior Jon Nicolaisen was wide right on a 45-yard field goal attempt.
After intermission, A&T scored every time it touched the football in the third period.
The first touchdown was a back-breaking, 63-yard pass play from Hooker to Jessie Britt, one of two on which they would combine in the second half.
Contributing to the second A&T score was the poor field position Howard had on the ensuing kickoff as Chappell allowed his knee to touch the ground inside his one as he fielded the ball. Three plays later, Howard was forced to punt, and Herbert Harvison returned the ball 13 yards, giving A&T a first down on the Howard 28. Six plays later, the Aggies led, 21-7.
"I thought our guys partially gave up there," said Jeffries. "And A&T was coming on so strong."
Strong enough to score three more touchdowns and send Howard reeling to yet another defeat. The Bison did manage one second-half touchdown, when Harvey Reed ran across from the 12 to open the fourth period. But Howard was unable to take advantage of two A&T fumbles -- at the Bison 46 and 34, and the Aggies' victory was complete.
"It is really tough coming off a win and then losing like this," said Jeffries. "And it will be tougher to get up for next week's game than in the past. The coaches will have to be very positive. We can't hang our heads, and I know the boys will give a good effort."