Howard University's football team treated a record homecoming crowd of 29,595 to several other record-setting performances at Greene Stadium yesterday afternoon, but no one in the overflow audience expected they also would be attending Howard's first home night game.

In a game that lasted more than four hours and finished under the lights, the Division I-AA 20th-ranked Bison defeated Division II Morehouse College, 54-7, for their 14th victory in their last 15 games.

The crowd included television star Bill Cosby and exceeded Howard's previous best by about 6,000, according to school officials. Hundreds more watched from the rooftops of nearby apartment buildings. They all saw Howard (7-1) set a school record with 535 yards rushing and amass 625 net yards.

Howard senior Harvey Reed, who entered the game as the nation's leading Division I-AA rusher with 149 yards per game, finished with 132 yards on 22 carries. He scored on touchdown runs of 8, 15 and 14 yards to establish a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference career record with 44 touchdowns.

Quarterback Lee DeBose threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. Fullback Ronnie Epps ran for 103 yards on 10 carries and scored on a 28-yard run.

The game became a marathon, however, not because of Howard's continual scoring. Morehouse, 3-6 and loser of four of its last five, was overmatched from the time it fumbled away the opening kick. That was the first of 10 fumbles the teams combined to lose (six by Morehouse). The two teams also were called for a total of 30 penalties for 254 yards.

Howard, which scored on its first six possessions and led, 35-0, at the half, got sloppy late in the game. Morehouse, coming off its best game of the season -- a 37-0 victory over Kentucky State -- looked ragged throughout the day and into the darkness. It could not provide protection for quarterback Jimmie Davis and eventually fell victim to its own good effort in controlling Reed.

"I think they basically shut me down," said Reed, whose 3,801 yards rushing are 59 yards short of making him the ninth all-time I-AA career rusher. "But I like a team to try and stop me like that. They did it so much, they left a hole in their defense for everyone else."

The game was not in doubt after nine minutes.

Sean VanHorse stripped the ball from Morehouse's David Boone on the opening kickoff. Five plays later, DeBose ran for a one-yard touchdown.

Howard went 76 yards on four plays with its next possession. DeBose, who made several great moves on a 57-yard run, threw a 10-yard alley-oop pass to Derrick Faison for a 12-0 lead with 6:33 left in the first quarter. Howard failed both times to run in the point after touchdown.

"I didn't have any intention of keeping the ball that much," said DeBose, who played barely more than two quarters, but rushed for 87 yards on nine carries. "But they focused on stopping Harvey so much that it left the middle for Ronnie and the option for me."

Reed finished Howard's next drive on an eight-yard pitchout behind Epps' lead block.

Linebacker Charles Gibbs sacked Davis three plays later -- one of eight Howard sacks -- causing a fumble that was recovered by Walter Gaskins. DeBose immediately threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmie Johnson for a 25-0 lead with 13:28 left in the half.

John Harvell's 21-yard field goal made it 28-0 and Epps finished the first-half scoring with his 28-yard burst through the middle.

The Maroon Tigers came up with no answers at halftime. Howard went 68 yards with the opening kickoff, with Reed increasing the lead to 41-0 with his 15-yard touchdown.

"Once we came out in the second half and scored, they were gone," said DeBose. "They just gave up."

Davis, a sophomore with declared majors in engineering, physics and math who carries a 4.0 grade point average, could not study for the Howard defenses he saw. Davis completed 11 of 25 passes for 141 yards, but he was still woozy after the game from Howard's new blitz package, which left him with little time to throw and often put him on the ground.

"We were just always in bad situations," said Davis, who did not get his team past the Howard 41 until 5:59 remained in the third period. "This is pretty down for us because we really thought we would do better. I don't remember a lot of what happened, and my head is still fuzzy, but I know this is one game to forget."

Howard's much-improved pass defense over the past two games is directly related to a better pass rush, particularly from freshman tackle David Westbrook and linebacker Michael Clarington, and the random blitzing of defensive back Thomas Jones.

"We put those blitzes in two weeks ago," said Jones, a redshirt sophomore from McDonough High School. "We talked to our position coach {Earl Humes} and told him we thought we needed to get more pressure on the quarterback. Now, we have grown very confident because of it."

Reserve tailback Fred Killings, the Bison's second leading rusher (85 yards per game), hurt a knee in the fourth quarter. He will be examined today for possible ligament damage, team officials said.