ATLANTA, SEPT. 29 -- Howard's swarming secondary was the story of a one-sided contest as the Bison grabbed a school-record five interceptions, three of them setting up 17 first-quarter points, en route to a 44-7 rout of Morehouse today before 10,250 at B.T. Harvey Stadium.

Now 4-0 and off to its best start since 1973, Howard won its 20th in 21 games against Division II competition and stretched its two-year winning streak to eight straight games, the longest in Division I-AA.

"We were still ragged in spots but we got a good game from a makeshift line, and {quarterbacks} Donald Carr and Chris DuBose, James Carpenter and Ryan Heathcock played well," said Howard Coach Steve Wilson. Heathcock tied a school record, scoring four touchdowns.

"Our secondary was supposed to be our question mark and today we played without our best cornerback, Walter Price, and did a fine job," Wilson said. "Our front four and linebackers know they have to apply pressure on the quarterback. There's no secret to our defense."

Morehouse (1-3) might disagree. Absorbing 42 yards in sacks, the Tigers netted minus-one yard rushing on 31 attempts, the lone bright spot being a 63-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Joe Sanders to Chad Pasley in the waning seconds of the first half.

Still unscored upon in the first period this season, Howard got plenty of help from the Maroon Tigers early. A botched punt on their first possession gave Howard the ball at the Morehouse 28. But Morehouse held and Gary Mossop missed a 39-yard field goal.

It would be the Maroon Tigers' last break. Sanders was consistently pressured, harassed all afternoon by a hard-charging Bison line. Sanders completed only 11 of 43 passes for 188 yards and threw four interceptions.

Neal Downing had the Bison's first theft, returning 18 yards to the Morehouse 15. Five plays later, Heathcock (74 yards on 20 carries) bulled over for his first touchdown. Mossop's kick made it 7-0 with 9:30 gone in the quarter.

Trying to confuse the Bison with the run-and-shoot offense, Morehouse fell behind by 14-0 a minute later when cornerback Joe Olidge stepped in front of a receiver and raced 63 yards down the sideline.

Sanders was picked off for the third time in the period by Eric Gore at the Howard 47.

"We were just playing our men tight. We didn't make any adjustments to their run-and-shoot offense, we just watched the quarterback and played the ball," said Gore, who took the blame for the lone Morehouse touchdown.

"On that play, I went for the fake to the running back and he {Pasley} got past me," he said. "They {coaches} just told me the play was over and forget it. This was a good game for us. This secondary is coming together."

After Gore's interception, Carpenter (64 yards on nine carries) had a 24-yard run to help the Bison to the Morehouse 7. They settled for Mossop's 24-yard kick and a 17-0 advantage with 1:58 left in the quarter.

The turnovers and lopsided score left the Maroon Tigers players and first-year coach Dwight Scales completely frustrated.

"When you have that many turnovers so quickly, it hurts and it's hard to come back," said Scales, a former NFL wide receiver. "Especially for a young team like ours. We saw a few things on film we thought we could take advantage of, but we didn't do it."

Not to be completely outdone, the Howard offense marched 80 yards, the key play a 30-yard completion from Carr to Brian Speed. The reception, the first by a Bison tight end this season and second in two years, moved Howard to the 26. Four plays later, Heathcock scored to increase the lead to 24-0.

After Morehouse's Morris Turner got off a 15-yard punt, Heathcock barreled over safety Ollie Evans at the goal line to to cap a 40-yard, five-play drive and give Howard a 31-0 lead at the 6:42 mark of the second period.

Morehouse gave its crowd something to yell about when Pasley grabbed the pass from Sanders and scored.

If anyone thought the Bison would be flat in the second half, back-to-back 91- and 99-yard drives dispelled that notion.

"That felt especially good. I told the guys we could drive this thing 99 yards and two feet and we just worked hard," said senior lineman Paul Ramseur, who was forced to play all three spots today because of bumps and bruises to teammates. "The defense kept giving us field positions and we wanted to show off our offense some too. We still have some work to do, but this offense is much more confident that it was earlier."

The two long drives were masterpieces.

DuBose (five of 13 for 58 yards) directed the first one, connecting on four passes before Heathcock scored from seven yards out.

Howard took over on downs inside its 1 after stopping four running plays on a first and goal from the 8. Carr then took his team 99 yards.

"You look for that continuity and this was a good effort by the line," said Carr, eight for 18 for 155 yards. "We know we have to execute because we have some tough games coming up now. We wanted to come here and play four good quarters. We didn't capitalize on a couple of chances and I thought I had a bad day. But we worked on some new things and our timing. We just have to get better each week."

Carr had three completions in the seven-play march, including a 29-yard touchdown to George Humes.

While Wilson was generally pleased, he said he will take a long look at the 16 penalties for 156 yards and a couple of breakdowns.

"We've had penalties and so far, it hasn't been a big factor," Wilson said. "But we want to cut them down. We want to be able to control the ball and you can't have penalties. With our conference games coming, we have to execute."

Wilson, a 10-year NFL veteran at cornerback, was asked if Scales had ever beaten him for a touchdown in the pros. "I don't remember, but I'm sure he did," he said.

But like his pass-hungry defenders today, that didn't happen very often.