A quarterback will never turn down help in reading defenses, so when Howard center Paul Ramseur saw a few holes in Bethune-Cookman's yesterday, Donald Carr was more than willing to listen.

The results were two quarterback sneaks for big gains that led to Howard's first touchdown and set the tone as the Bison extended the nation's longest Division I-AA winning streak to nine games with a 23-7 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory before an estimated 7,200 at Greene Stadium.

Sophomore fullback Ryan Heathcock rushed for two one-yard touchdowns in the second period and Gary Mossop kicked field goals of 34, 27 and 26 yards as the Bison improved to 5-0, 2-0 in the league.

Bethune-Cookman, coming off a 56-42 loss to Delaware State in which it blew a 42-21 halftime lead, fell to 2-3, 1-2. The Wildcats came into the game with the MEAC's top passing attack, but they were held to 92 total yards, including minus-one net rushing, by the nation's No. 7 defense.

As impressive as its defense was once again, the Bison came away delighted with their continually improving offense. The touchdown drives of 57 and 76 yards showed variety Howard rarely has been able to sustain.

Carr's sneaks, for 17 and nine yards, seemed to break Bethune-Cookman's defensive scheme for the remainder of the game.

"D.C. and I talked about it," said Ramseur, who noticed that middle linebacker Cedric McKinnon, Bethune-Cookman's defensive leader, was bouncing to various spots along the line of scrimmage in hopes of outguessing the play calling. "They weren't playing us honest. No. 5 {McKinnon} likes to move around. The first time we ran the play, I just tapped Donald and let him know. The second time, he saw it and let me know."

Carr passed for 113 yards and rushed for 79, although 55 were then deducted for five sacks. He completed passes rolling right and left, but most of all, his direction helped Howard keep the ball for 36 minutes 21 seconds to 23:39 for Bethune-Cookman.

The final decision to run the sneaks is made at the line. Carr said only he and Ramseur know the play called in the huddle would not be executed, and that little secret led to a 17-0 halftime lead and left Bethune-Cookman's coaching staff to scratch their heads.

"They were running guys up on the outside to keep contain on me," said Carr. "When we started beating them outside, they went farther outside and that left open pockets in between. I think the key play was when they overloaded on the right side {on the second touchdown drive} and I rolled left and completed a pass to George Humes {for 12 yards}. They had to eventually change to just a base defense."

The alteration proved successful in the second half, but the Wildcats' offense never managed to pull their team close. Their biggest play was an 83-yard return of the second-half kickoff by Kevin Gainer, which was followed by quarterback Jermaine Hall's 14-yard scramble for their lone score.

Hall was able to do little else. The sophomore entered the game No. 15 in the nation in total offense, but he was limited to nine completions in 30 attempts. With no score in the first quarter and under heavy pressure from defensive end Gary Willingham, Hall threw a poor pass that became safety Eric Gore's fourth interception of the season. That led to Mossop's 34-yard field goal.

"We are an attacking defense," said Howard nose tackle Brian Taltoan. "From the films, we knew their weakness was between guard and center. They left a big gap and gave away when they would pass by the way they set up. With the way our DBs {defensive backs} cover, once we started blitzing, I feel {Hall} got frustrated."

Howard's coverage was a key factor in limiting wide receiver Jeff Parker's effectiveness. Cornerback Walter Price, who played most of the game despite not practicing since suffering a groin pull two weeks ago, was a major factor in that coverage, as were the much-improved Gore and Reggie Wiggins.

The MEAC's top receiver entering the game, Parker had five catches, but three came in the final 6:08 when the game already had been decided.

"I had a couple of good games early, and now it is getting tougher every week because people are looking for me," said Parker. "Howard has the best defense we have faced all year. They did the same things we have seen from other teams, but they did a heck of a job playing it."

Second-year coach Steve Wilson said he was confident Howard -- now 20-4 at home since Greene Stadium was refurbished in 1987 -- could handle the pass-happy Wildcats with its normal man-to-man defense.

"I felt going in we would be able to control the line of scrimmage, and once we did that we didn't give {Hall} much time to throw," he said.

Despite a series of impressive performances, the Bison continue to lack recognition in the I-AA poll. They were 29th in total votes received last week.

"We think about it before every game," said Carr. "We are trying to just worry about the conference championship, but it does discourage us."