ORANGEBURG, S.C., SEPT. 22 -- Gary Mossop was primarily a soccer player in high school in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but was encouraged by the staff of then-Howard football coach Willie Jeffries to come to Washington and try out for the Bison football team as a walk-on kicker. What Jeffries saw in Mossop came back to haunt him today for the second consecutive year.

Mossop made a 20-yard field goal in overtime, and Walter Price ended South Carolina State's overtime possession with a fourth-down interception, as the Bison defeated the team Jeffries now coaches, 23-20, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game before 11,870 at Dawson Bulldog Stadium.

The victory was the seventh straight for Howard (3-0 overall, 1-0 MEAC). This was the first Bison victory in Orangeburg since 1973.

The Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1) had a potential game-winning extra-point kick blocked with 2:48 left in regulation by Howard's Kenneth Newsome. With 1:06 to go in the fourth quarter and the score still tied at 20, several Bison players swarmed to block a 38-yard field-goal attempt by William Wrighten, the Bulldogs' 250-pound kicker.

Jeffries left Howard two years ago, taking most of his staff with him, to return to his alma mater, where he had coached previously. Last season, a Mossop field goal was the difference in a 10-7 Howard win in Washington.

Assistant coach Earl Humes "recruited me and convinced me to come to Howard," said Mossop, who also kicked field goals of 32 and 29 yards today. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here right now. It feels great to beat them, but after the game Coach Humes and all the other coaches came over and said they were proud of me."

The game, which was nationally televised on cable's BET and took more than four hours to play, was filled with chances for both teams to win in regulation.

Howard took a 20-7 lead with 6:03 left in the third period on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Donald Carr to wide receiver George Humes, the brother of the Bulldogs' secondary coach.

Even after a five-yard touchdown run by quarterback Robert Hemby closed South Carolina State to 20-14 with 2:22 left in the third period, Howard seemed in control.

The Bison were trying to run down the clock, but on second and 13 from their 36, Carr's pass to the right sideline was intercepted by Wayne McDowell. He returned it 38 yards for the tying score.

McDowell had another interception with 46 seconds left in regulation, but with three seconds remaining, Howard's Keith Hancock assured overtime, intercepting reserve quarterback Jasper Brooks's pass at the Howard 8.

"It's special to play against all those players that you recruited," said Jeffries. "It is all difficult when they beat you."

Howard Coach Steve Wilson said the game left him exhausted.

"This group finds a way to win and we have individuals who make big plays when we need them," he said. "I know we haven't won here in a long time, but those things don't matter. All that matters is that we are 3-0. You can throw the rest out."

The MEAC has had an overtime rule since the NCAA allowed conferences to adapt the tiebreaking system in 1982. Each team is given possession 25 yards from the goal line. Teams can earn first downs and keep possession until they score, have a turnover or lose the ball on downs.

Howard took first possession in overtime. Carr made a 13-yard run on a scramble through the middle on third and 13 from the State 28.

Howard drove to the 2, then sent in Mossop on fourth down.

South Carolina State gained four yards on its first three plays, but rather than have Wrighten try a 38-yard field goal for a tie and further overtime, Jeffries opted to try for a first down. Price intercepted at the Bison 10.

"I think they knew we could block an attempt at any time," said Howard linebacker Mack Jones, a junior from nearby Columbia, S.C., and part of Howard's kick-blocking unit. "It didn't surprise me that they didn't go for it."

But it surprised Howard defensive coordinator Rubin Carter, even though he said the blocks were representative of how well the unit has done in practice.

"I thought they would go for the field goal, but when I saw they weren't, I thought it was great," he said. "We had gotten them in the position we were hoping to get them in."

"We weren't getting the blocking down for the field goals," said Jeffries. "{Wrighten} has improved as a kicker, but with the way we were blocking, we thought he might try to rush a kick and we didn't want that to happen."

The end came with an interception, just as the game had started. Howard had taken a 7-0 lead as Elton Parish returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown.

"It's great to win here," Jones said. "Now we want to start another tradition by winning here more often."