Howard 20, N.C. A&T 16
For the first time in a long while, the Howard football team will enter November with reasons to be pleased. Yesterday's 20-16 victory over North Carolina A&T at Greene Stadium rejuvenates the Bison's hopes for their first winning season since 1998.
Gaithersburg High product Jay Colbert ran for two touchdowns in the second half, the latter giving the Bison the lead with 1 minute 56 seconds remaining. Howard safety Rashad Frazier blocked two field goal attempts, and the Bison capitalized on numerous Aggies penalties.
Though not contenders for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title, the injury-ravaged Bison (4-3, 2-2) own victories against North Carolina A&T and Florida A&M for the first time since 1997. After the 28-24 upset of the Rattlers in Tallahassee two weeks ago, Howard fell apart in a 38-20 homecoming loss to Morgan State last weekend.
The Bison appeared to be heading toward another sluggish second half when North Carolina A&T tailback D'Brian Hudgins rushed for a 55-yard touchdown to open the second half and returned a kickoff 84 yards seven minutes later to put the Aggies (3-5, 1-3) ahead 16-6 midway through the third quarter.
But the Howard defense turned in its grittiest performance of the season. The Aggies began their final drive facing heavy winds, and quarterback Marshall Glenn's desperation heaves were unable to reach the goal line.
"I can't stop nature," said Glenn, a true freshman who completed 15 of 34 passes for 174 yards. Glenn started the season third on the depth chart, elevated after Jason Battle injured his ankle on the game's first series. Glenn capably led the offense to 380 yards, including six trips inside the Howard 20-yard line.
But all of that production yielded just a 24-yard field goal by Pat Simcox in the second quarter and a 3-0 Aggies halftime lead.
In North Carolina A&T, Howard found an opponent as inexperienced as itself. The Aggies committed 18 penalties for 148 yards, while Howard committed three for 32, its lowest total of the season.
"That was responsible for our undoing more than anything else," North Carolina A&T Coach Bill Hayes said. "We were plagued by massive penalties."
On the winning drive, the Bison benefited from an offsides that gave them a first down after facing a third-and-short at midfield as well as a pass interference call that gave them a first down at the Aggies 9-yard line. In all, Howard gained six first downs courtesy of North Carolina A&T penalties. And, on a critical 33-yard pass to Daryl Nunn, Howard quarterback Donald Clark appeared to cross the line of scrimmage during his throwing motion, but no penalty was called.
"Hey, I didn't throw the flags," Howard Coach Ray Petty said.
Howard made the most of the opportunity, running Colbert to the left on a sweep, the same play that he scored his first touchdown from 13 yards out to start the fourth quarter. He finished with 86 yards on 22 carries.
After Vaughn Waters sprained his knee last week to become the latest of 11 starters to miss a game because of injury, the Bison had no place kicker or punter healthy for the game, and were forced to use backup quarterback Marcos Moreno. He averaged 35.8 yards on five punts and one was blocked.
The Aggies, however, proved to have more problems in the kicking game, as Frazier and cornerback Serge Sejour had little difficulty getting to the holder on field goal attempts. Simcox's 35-yard attempt in the second quarter was blocked, and Frazier foiled a 26-yard attempt with four minutes left that would have given the Aggies a 19-12 lead that would have been formidable, given that Howard had no one on the roster capable of attempting a point-after.