The "replaceable parts" of Howard University's football team came off the shelf yesterday and, much to Virginia State's despair, they were as good as the original equipment.
Playing without their entire first-string backfield, the Bison amassed 504 total yards as they defeated the Division II Trojans, 56-14, before a Greene Stadium crowd of 13,589 that included a contingent of Washington Redskins enjoying their final Saturday off before resuming play next week.
"The coaches always talk about this team being a team of replaceable parts," said sophomore Fred Killings, filling in as tailback Harvey Reed had a streak of 11 consecutive 100-yard rushing games ended. Killings ran for 205 yards on 28 carries.
Howard, which had a 10-game winning streak stopped last week by Towson State, improved to 4-1 overall despite playing without quarterback Lee DeBose (pulled groin) and fullback Ronnie Epps (away because of family illness) and missing Reed for all but three carries.
Reed, who came into the game as the leading Division I-AA rusher with 178 yards per game, sprained an ankle trying to recover a bad pitchout midway in the first quarter. Coach Willie Jeffries said Reed could have returned, but with Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponent North Carolina A&T coming up next week, he was held out.
Sophomore John Javis, who had been used as a kick returner and wide receiver, moved to quarterback yesterday and rushed for 102 yards and a school-record-tying four touchdowns. In addition, third-string tailback Tony Mack rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns as Howard's offensive line dominated in ending Virginia State's four-game winning streak.
The Trojans, who fell to 4-2-1 by losing to their only I-AA opponent, were held to 62 first-half yards as Howard took a 29-0 lead. The Bison have won seven of their last eight meetings with Virginia State and are 32-6 against Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association opponents since leaving the CIAA in 1971 to join the MEAC.
"I have waited for this chance for a long time, and I was hoping it would come, but I didn't think it would come this soon," said Killings. "But our offensive line did such a great job of opening holes, anybody could have done that."
Howard's offensive line took control from the start. On Howard's second offensive play, Javis went 50 yards on an option right for a touchdown.
Javis threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Derrick Faison on Howard's second possession. Before the half ended, he concluded drives of 63 and 53 yards with one-yard touchdown runs.
Javis left in the third quarter after bruising his left wrist. Senior Leon Brown kept Howard rolling by directing three touchdown drives that ended with touchdown runs of 11 and 27 yards by Mack, and a one-yard quarterback keeper.
"We were aware DeBose and Reed were out, but that offensive line that they run behind was still in there," said Virginia State Coach George Moody. "It's that offensive line that makes them go. At halftime, I told our kids we can come out in the second half and score 29 points, or we can be embarrassed. I think we came out somewhere in between."
For much of the game, Howard played 401-pound Willie Felder at right tackle and 305-pound Calvert Thomas at right guard. Virginia State's heaviest starting defender is 280-pound tackle Walt Files.
Quarterback Rudy Elliot scored on a one-yard keeper and Dan Boynton scored on a nine-yard counter play for Virginia State.
"I'm very surprised by what happened. Actually, I'm shocked," said Boynton, who came into the game averaging 5.1 yards per carry, but was held to 53 yards on 13 attempts. "They took our counters away and had people keying on me every play. They wouldn't let me do anything. They decoyed me the whole day."
Robert Ward, a sophomore defensive tackle, set Howard's defensive tone, sacking Elliot twice in the first quarter.
"We like to use Robert against teams that trap and use counters because he plays protective defense and doesn't go for those fakes," said Jeffries. "From the start today, he did a good job."
Jeffries was pleased the victory was impressive because his players had difficulty handling the end of their one-year winning streak.
"They brooded early in the week about the loss," he said. "But they were able to shake it off and that's what made this game important in several ways. Now we are back on the winning road again."
Virginia St. 0 0 14 0 14 Howard 14 15 7 20 56
H -- Javis 50 run (Harvell kick)
H -- Faison 53 pass from Javis Second quarter
H -- Javis 1 run , Brown run
H -- Javis 17 run (Harvell kick)Third quarter
H -- Javis 1 run (Harvell kick)
V -- Elliott 1 run (Martin kick)
V -- Boynton 9 run (Martin kick)Fourth quarter
H -- Mack 11 run (Harvell kick)
H -- Brown 1 run (run failed)
H -- Mack 27 run (Harvell kick)
Va.State Howard First downs 12 26 Rushes-yards 45-121 62-486 Passing yards 126 87 Return yards 0 79 Passing 19-8-3 11-3-0 Punts-average 6-39.7 2-38.5 Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1 Penalties-yards 5-49 10-80 T
A -- 13,589INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING -- Virginia. St.: Boynton 13-53, Cooper 1-2, Elliott 9-minus 7, Bullock 5-12, McShay 10-31, Winstea
PASSING -- Virginia St.: Elliott 18-8-3, 126 yards, Anderson 1-0-0, 0. Howard: Javis 5-1-0, 53, Brown 6-2-0
RECEIVING -- Virginia St: Boynton 4-39, Cooper 1-0, Davis 2-85, McShay 1-2. Howard: Faison 1-53, Lamback 1-