Capitalizing on Bowie State mistakes and ineffectiveness, Howard rolled up 518 total yards and limited the Division II Bulldogs to only 95 in a 55-6 rout yesterday in front of a homecoming crowd of 11,553 at RFK Stadium. The game was called with 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter when Bowie State Coach Sanders Shiver pulled his squad from the field following a brief scuffle.

Afterward Shiver blamed the officiating for "letting the game get out of control. You don't allow kids to go out and do what they want to do and not call it both ways. ... {The officials} should be penalized. They allowed the kids to get into that fight."

The fracas broke out immediately following Howard's final touchdown, when reserve running back James Cunningham caught his third scoring pass of the fourth quarter, a 34-yarder from Terrill Hill. Bowie safety Gary Beckford, taking offense after Cunningham placed the ball next to cornerback Dwayne Zackery in the end zone, tackled Cunningham, prompting many of Howard's players to rush onto the field.

"I was running back to the sideline," Cunningham said. "No words were exchanged, but {Beckford} hit me from the back. It's like that sometimes when you get beat deep."

While the officials were sorting out penalties, Shiver decided to end it right there since he "ran out of players.

"It started with the touchdown," he said of Cunningham's score. "You don't stick a ball in the guy's face. That's taunting."

Seven players were ejected, four of them Bison. The officials, however, did not specify which players were ejected and refused comment after the game.

Four second-quarter touchdowns helped the I-AA Bison break open what had been a close game in this first-ever meeting between the schools and improve to 5-3 heading into next Saturday's important Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at South Carolina State. The Bulldogs lost their fifth straight and fell to 1-8.

"We needed to win," Howard Coach Steve Wilson said. "We didn't play particularly well, but we won."

You knew it was Halloween when spooky things started happening from the outset. Like the Bulldogs -- who have completed just 21 percent of their passes -- opening with a shotgun offense and going without a huddle on the first drive. It didn't work: Bowie State quarterbacks completed only three of 20 passes for 29 yards with four interceptions.

On the game's first series, Bowie State's Marcus Roberson had his third punt blocked this season as reserve safety Leon Riddick rushed in unchecked. Howard took over at the Bulldogs 5 and one play later Jay Walker scored on a bootleg left to give Howard a 7-0 lead.

But the Bulldogs answered, in quick and shocking fashion. Senior cornerback Steve Smith (Theodore Roosevelt High) tore through Howard's too-slow kickoff coverage unit, running the 90 yards for a touchdown. It was Smith's second runback for a score this season.

Smith later left with a knee injury, the severity of which was not determined yesterday.