Howard wide receiver Elijah Thurmon kept trying to re-write the school's record book today. Quarterback Bobby Townsend joined in the attempt and pulled out another last-minute comeback victory.
Thurmon set a school single-season record for receptions and Townsend broke the school single-game mark for pass attempts, the final one coming on a six-yard touchdown pass to Jevonte Philpot with 10 seconds left that gave Howard a 42-38 victory over Morgan State before 8,115 at Hughes Stadium.
Townsend also set a school record by generating 555 yards of total offense in leading Howard to its fourth last-minute victory of the season.
"If you have a weak heart, don't come to our games," Howard Coach Steve Wilson said. "When it comes down to getting it done in the fourth quarter, that [Townsend] knows how to do it."
Thurmon's 12 receptions today gave him 76 for the season, surpassing by four the mark Gary Harrell set in 1993. Townsend completed 37 of 71 attempts for 522 yards and four touchdowns, including three in a 28-point fourth quarter.
Howard (5-5, 4-3 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) has come from behind to win in four of its five victories. The Bison gained 276 of their 629 yards in the fourth quarter while rallying from a 31-14 third-quarter deficit. Howard had fallen behind 13-0 in the first quarter.
"They dropped back in [coverage], and we just took what they gave us," said Townsend, who threw three interceptions in the third quarter. "The first downs make touchdowns."
The Bison trailed 31-14 entering the fourth quarter. Jermaine Hutchinson scored on a three-yard run with 12 minutes 57 seconds left, and Townsend threw a 13-yard scoring pass to Philpot to make it 31-28 with 9:38 left. The Bison drove once more and took the lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Thurmon with 2:33 remaining.
"We knew our offense is potent," Thurmon said. "We just [played with] an urgency in the fourth quarter because it was getting tight on us."
Morgan State (2-7, 0-6) then drove 67 yards on five plays, scoring on Ali Culpepper's seven-yard run--his fourth score of the day--with 1:33 left for a 38-35 lead. Howard answered one more time, driving 73 yards on 10 plays for the winning score. Townsend found Philpot in the back of the end zone for the deciding touchdown.
Philpot, Kevin Simmonds and Tauric Rice all had career days. Rice had eight receptions for 92 yards, several coming on timely shovel passes. Simmonds is quickly becoming a complement to Thurmon and made six catches for 129 yards. Philpot had six catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
"They saw that we couldn't cover them," Morgan State Coach Stanley Mitchell said. "We couldn't get [Townsend] out of the pocket and get him to scramble. He had all day to throw."
Morgan State used a strategy similar to the one South Carolina State used last week in scoring 42 points against the Bison--run first, pass when necessary. The Bears totaled 174 yards rushing in the first half and 250 overall. The Bears had struggled offensively the last several games, but they had little trouble moving against the Bison, finishing with 407 yards.
Morgan State scored on three of its first four possessions, taking leads of 13-0 and 16-6. Townsend threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Thurmon and a two-point conversion to Leonard Stephens to cut the lead to 16-14 with 2:12 left in the half.