Howard running back Jermaine Hutchinson did what he could to rally his team from a seven-point deficit late in yesterday's game against Hampton.
But after Hutchinson scored his fourth touchdown of the game, Charles Card's extra point attempt was blocked, giving Hampton, ranked seventh in Division I-AA, a 28-27 victory in the sixth annual Greater Washington Urban League Classic before 26,300 at RFK Stadium.
"I took my regular steps, my regular motion, my regular routine," said Card, who had another extra point attempt blocked in the first quarter. "When I hit the ball, I hit it true, I hit it solid. It just got blocked."
With the loss, Howard fell to 0-2 (0-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) in the midst of a particularly grueling stretch of games. Last week, the Bison lost to Jackson State, ranked 17th in Division I-AA, on the road, 35-21. Saturday, Howard plays MEAC rival Bethune-Cookman, which received votes in the most recent national poll, in Cincinnati.
"We're a pretty good 0-2 football team," Howard Coach Steve Wilson said. "But nobody is interested in an 0-2 team. We're getting better."
The Bison's running game was much more effective against Hampton (2-0), the two-time defending MEAC champion, than it was against Jackson State, when Howard was limited to just 75 yards rushing. Hampton held Delaware State to just nine yards rushing in its season-opening win last week, but the Pirates had trouble stopping the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Hutchinson.
Hutchinson rushed for a career-high 152 yards on 23 carries and scored on runs of 4, 4, 22, and 2 yards. Late in the third quarter with Howard trailing, 21-14, Hutchinson personally led the Bison on a 77-yard scoring drive, marching down the field on runs of 46, 4, 5, and 22 yards.
That final carry of 22 yards, in which he ran up the middle and burst through a group of Hampton defenders, put him into the end zone. Card's extra point tied the game at 21.
"He's a big-time running back," Wilson said. "He is a good inside runner and has good speed. He wore [number] 22 for us the past two years, but we switched him to [number] 34 because he reminds us of Walter Payton. He's just a kid with a big heart."
After Hutchinson's touchdown tied the game, Hampton put together a 10-play, 65-yard scoring drive. Junior running back Montrell Coley ran for a five-yard touchdown to give the Pirates a 28-21 lead with 10 minutes 21 seconds to play.
Howard answered with a 72-yard drive that Hutchinson capped with a two-yard run with 3:24 left. That made the score 28-27, and that's where it stayed as Card's kick was blocked.
"I was so happy because I thought we had another chance," Hutchinson said. "We had an opportunity to tie the game. I was sitting on the sideline, so I didn't see the kick. I just heard the crowd react, and I knew what had happened."
Last year against the Pirates, Howard rallied from a 22-point halftime deficit but fell short, 38-31, when Hampton's Coley scored on a 50-yard reception with 1:16 to play.
Howard did not fall behind early this year. A 39-yard punt return by Howard freshman Shaun Miller set up the game's first touchdown. Miller fielded the punt on his own 43 and broke up the middle before Hampton's Corey Cason brought him down from behind on the Pirates' 18. Three plays later, Hutchinson scored on a four-yard run, but Card's extra-point attempt was blocked by Michael Bland.
Hampton senior fullback Michael Jones (Oxon Hill High) scored on a three-yard run, and Hampton took a 7-6 lead.
Late in the first quarter, Hampton senior running back Karima Mayer fumbled, and Howard senior linebacker LaMonte Darden recovered the ball on the Howard 11. But the Bison failed to take advantage, as Hutchinson fumbled on the 9-yard line, and Hampton's Stanley Aughtry recovered. Coley rushed for a touchdown on the next play for a 14-6 lead.
But Howard tied the game with 8:46 left in the half when Hutchinson scored on a four-yard run. Bobby Townsend completed a pass to Jevonte Philpot for a two-point conversion.
HOWARD vs. BETHUNE-COOKMAN
When: Saturday, 2:30
Site: Cinergy Field, Cincinnati