Howard University, which came into the game as the nation's top NCAA Division I-AA rushing team, used several different facets of its offense yesterday to end 13 years of frustration against South Carolina State.

Quarterback Lee DeBose's passing resulted in two touchdowns and set up another as Howard defeated the Bulldogs, 31-22, before an overflow crowd of 21,479 at Greene Stadium for its 10th consecutive victory. Howard also has the nation's longest Division I-AA winning streak.

The victory ended Howard's 13-game losing streak against its Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponent from Orangeburg. It improved Howard's record to 3-0 overall, 2-0 in the MEAC.

The Bulldogs (1-2, 1-1), a long-time MEAC power, have lost six of their last seven games under second-year coach Dennis Thomas.

Howard's Harvey Reed, the nation's leading rusher, established conference career records for rushing yardage (3,187) and rushing touchdowns (34) in running for 106 yards, but was slowed by a sprained ankle.

However, Howard got an outstanding performance from its defense, just one week after it allowed 678 yards, including 478 passing, in a 58-51 victory over Bethune-Cookman. Yesterday, the defense allowed only two touchdowns, including quarterback Lance Salter's two-yard run with three seconds remaining.

"This is a very, very special win for us," said Howard Coach Willie Jeffries, who was the opposing coach in 1973, the last time Howard defeated the Bulldogs. "It showed the diversity of our talent, and it is good to win when your star is hurt. Our defense gave up only two touchdowns, and that is all we really ask for."

The Bulldogs scored their other touchdown on an 86-yard interception return by Ernie Green that tied the game at 14 with 7:54 remaining in the first half. Otherwise, DeBose made few mistakes.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound junior started the day as the I-AA efficiency passing leader. He had not been intercepted in 110 attempts.

He completed only six of 13 passes for 130 yards against South Carolina State's rugged secondary, but his first pass of the day, following a blocked punt by Sean Van Horne, went for an 11-yard touchdown to tight end Eddie Hayes.

DeBose's second pass would probably have been a 60-yard touchdown, but it was dropped by an open Derrick Faison. His third pass went for a 65-yard touchdown to Curtis Chappell and a 14-7 Howard lead.

The Bison took a 24-14 halftime lead as DeBose completed an 11-yard pass to tight end Jimmie Johnson on second and goal from the Bulldogs 12. Ronnie Epps scored from the 1 on the ensuing play.

DeBose rushed for 68 yards on 12 carries.

"On our option, they were sending a man on Harvey, and that surprised us a bit because they did it all the time," said DeBose. "When they did that, it meant it was a keeper for me."

Howard averaged 51.5 points over its first two games, and DeBose said he knew the Bison could not maintain that pace.

"Everybody is expecting us to score 50 or more points every game," he said. "All we want is the win. Today, it was the defense that played exceptional."

The Bulldogs, who had a season-best 509 yards against Howard last year, were limited to 331 total yards yesterday.

They suffered a big loss with 2:15 left in the first half when 5-6 senior running back James Miller injured his wrist on a hit by linebacker Marty Graves at the Bulldogs 7. Miller fumbled, leading to Epps' touchdown.

To that point, Miller had been most of South Carolina State's offense. He had been used as a workhorse, carrying 19 times for 99 yards, but he did not return in the second half.

"I really didn't think I hit him that hard," said Graves. "After I hit him, I looked up and saw the ball rolling around."

Jeffries cited the loss of Miller as a big factor in the Bulldogs' second-half offensive problems, but Thomas declined to talk to the press after the game.

South Carolina State sent in Salters in the second half to replace starter Tyrone Gilmore, who is more adept in a running offense.

Salters completed four of nine passes for 78 yards, but had a four-yard touchdown pass to Michael Summers called back on an offensive pass interference penalty midway in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs failed to score on the drive.

"Last week, our defense was {emotionally} hurt," said Howard nose tackle Billy Dores, who helped put good pressure on both quarterbacks. "This week, we just played together and ran after the ball better.

"This game meant a lot to our seniors, who had never beaten South Carolina State, and to Coach Jeffries. We knew how important this game was.

"This week, we all said if we don't win this game, we will not win the MEAC championship. Now, it doesn't matter if we get into the rankings because we have proven to ourselves how much talent we have."

S.C. State 7 7 0 8 22 Howard 7 17 7 0 31

H -- Hayes 9 pass from DeBose (Harvell kick)

S.C. -- Dubose 7 run (Wrighton kick)

H -- Chappell 65 pass from DuBose (Harvell kick)

S.C. -- Green 86 pass interception (Wrighton kick)

H -- FG Mossop 47

H -- Epps 1 run (Harvell kick)

H -- Reed 23 run (Harvell kick)

S.C. -- Salters 2 run (Geohagham pass from Gilmore) S.C. State Howard

First downs 17 19 Rushes-yards 46-215 55-241 Passing yards 116 130 Return yards 98 55 Passing 7-20-0 6-13-2 Punts-average 7-33.7 3-40.6 Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1 Penalties-yards 10-95 7-83

RUSHING: S.C. State: Miller 19-99, Dubose 1-7, Gilmore 4-13, Whitley 6-22, Summers 10-54, Tyler 1-3, Salter

PASSING: S.C. State: Gilmore 3-10-0, 38 yards, Salters 4-9-0, 78. Howard: DeBose 6-13-2, 130.

RECEVING: S.C. State: McLaughlin, 4-74, Montgomery 1-24, Dubose 2-18. Howard: Chappell 2-86, G. Hayes 1-12,