A season that started with so much promise for Howard ran head-on into disappointing reality Saturday, as its 39-20 loss to Florida A&M eliminated any chance the Bison had to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title.
If Howard had won, a victory in the season finale against Delaware State this Saturday would have assured it a share of the conference title. But now the point is moot.
"This loss hurt emotionally," said Howard running back Ryan Heathcock. "I thought that we were ready personally, but we did not execute and the better team won."
Howard won its first five games this season to extend its winning streak to nine, but the Bison (6-4, 3-2) have now lost four of their last five games.
Florida A&M (6-4, 5-0) clinched at least a share of the MEAC title. It can win the title outright with a victory against Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 24.
One of the main reasons for Howard's reversal of fortune is turnovers. Howard had four interceptions and three fumbles Saturday, and the Florida A&M secondary dropped three potential interceptions.
In the last five games, Bison quarterbacks Donald Carr and Chris Dubose have combined for 15 interceptions. They have combined to throw 20 this season. Howard has 22 turnovers in its last five games.
Saturday, Dubose and Carr rotated the whole game, and in a key drive they substituted for each other four times. On that drive Carr threw incomplete on fourth down with 58 seconds left in the first half. On the next play Johnathon Jones scored on a 68-yard run to give Florida A&M a 26-3 halftime lead.
Howard, ranked first in total defense in Division I-AA allowing 236.3 yards a game, gave up 457 total yards and six touchdowns.