The Howard football team's 0-2 start and the threat of rain from Hurricane Ivan have slowed ticket sales for Saturday's inaugural Prince George's Classic at FedEx Field, which will pit the Bison against Alcorn State, game organizers said yesterday.
Mike Little, president of Prince George's Classic Inc., said about 12,500 tickets had been sold through last Friday, but added organizers still hope to have a crowd of about 35,000 at the game. A crowd of 91,665, the largest ever at FedEx Field, watched No. 1 Southern California beat Virginia Tech, 24-13, in the Black Coaches Association Football Classic on Aug. 28.
"As of Friday, we were where we wanted to be" in ticket sales, Little said. "I think the hurricane has some people watching the weather. For this game to work long term in the area, we need the fans to come out and support the event, regardless of the weather."
The Bison haven't helped organizers attract interest with their performances in the first two games. Howard allowed a 91-yard kickoff return and an 85-yard punt return for touchdowns in its 47-14 loss to Hampton on Saturday. The Bison threw five interceptions and lost five fumbles in their first two games.
Alcorn State has won seven games in a row, dating from last season, and beat defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion North Carolina A&T, 16-13, on Saturday.
"It's a great opportunity to bring this type of atmosphere to this area," Bison Coach Ray Petty said. "It's even more exciting that they asked our program to be a part of it. We'd love to be 2-0 going into this game, instead of 0-2, and get a good crowd out there. But I'm sure our fans will still turn out. We've got a good football team, but we've just made too many mistakes to get us in the win column."
Navy Faces Hurricane
Navy and Tulsa, which play at the Golden Hurricane's Skelly Stadium on Saturday night, were the nation's two most improved football teams in 2003. Tulsa improved from 1-11 in 2002 to 8-5 last season; the Midshipmen went from 2-10 to 8-5.
But while Navy is off to its first 2-0 start since 1996, the Golden Hurricane lost its first two games, 21-3 at Kansas and 38-21 at Oklahoma State.
"I think the year this game was scheduled there might have been one win or two wins between the two schools, and that changed a little bit last year," Navy Coach Paul Johnson said. "I'm sure this will be a circle-the-wagons game for them."
Allan to Start for Hoyas
Georgetown Coach Bob Benson said yesterday that sophomore Keith Allan will replace senior Andrew Crawford as the team's starting quarterback. Allan, from Long Valley, N.J., probably would have won the starting job during preseason camp if he hadn't injured his hip and sprained his ankle.
The Hoyas had only 132 yards of offense in their 17-6 loss to Lafayette on Saturday.
"I think at the end of the day, you're going to get into some defensive games and you've got to fight through the adversity," Benson said. "We didn't do a great job of responding to adversity."
Bulldogs, Eagles Set to Run
Bowie State, off to a 2-1 start under first-year coach Mike Lynn, travels to North Carolina Central on Saturday, a game that will feature three of the top runners in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Bulldogs freshman Isaac Redman is averaging 8.3 yards per carry and has run for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Bowie State fullback Julius Jordan leads the team with 239 rushing yards. Eagles tailback Greg Pruitt Jr., son of former Cleveland Browns star Greg Pruitt, is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and has run for 329 yards and one touchdown.
Georgetown defensive end Michael Ononibaku was named Patriot League defensive player of the week after recording 12 tackles, including a career-best three sacks, against Lafayette. He leads the conference with five sacks and seven tackles for losses. . . .
Hoyas junior tailback Kim Sarin leads the Patriot League with 116 rushing yards per game. . . .
Navy free safety Josh Smith has been invited to play in the Villages Gridiron Classic all-star game on Jan. 31 in the Villages, Fla. . . .
Catholic is off to an 0-2 start, and here's the number one reason why -- the Cardinals are averaging 0.9 yards on 52 rushing attempts.