The Howard Bison had their chances, but every time they came close, the Morgan State Bears would slam the door shut.

Morgan State defeated Howard 14-9 at the 40th annual Urban League Classic MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Sept. 24 in front of an exuberant crowd. Spurred by freshman linebacker Michael Dallas’ 20-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, the Bears recorded their second win and first MEAC victory of the season despite being outgained on offense, 375 yards to 187 yards.

The Bears jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the middle of the second quarter, capitalizing on a Bison offense that sputtered throughout the first half behind freshman quarterback Greg McGhee. The freshman began to move the team in the second half, but fumbled amid a heavy Morgan State blitz at the beginning of the second quarter, leading to the decisive Bears touchdown.

“I blitzed and the quarterback lost the ball and I picked it up,” Dallas said. “I wasn’t sure if it was an incomplete pass or a forced fumble but I just picked it up and ran as fast as I could to the endzone.”

McGhee led some impressive drives in the second half, even taking the Bison down to the Bears’ eight-yard line with just under two minutes left in the game. But his pass to senior receiver Willie Carter came up short on fourth down and Morgan State, took over on downs with seconds left, taking consecutive kneel-downs to end the game.

After his final pass skipped to the ground at Carter’s feet, McGhee walked to the sidelines in disbelief. But his teammates and his coach still have more than just belief invested in the freshman signal caller.

“Greg played pretty well. He made some mistakes; turned the ball over, he’s a freshman, we believe in him but right now it’s three or four games into the season and he’s getting better,” Howard coach Gary Harrell said. “He’s definitely getting better and making some plays for us but we have to make sure we put some things around him as far as the running game. I think we’re almost there.”

Last season, at the same venue, Morgan State defeated Howard 20-3 in front of a crowd of nearly 30,000. Although this season’s outcome was the same, Howard was much more competitive. But while their showing was impressive, for their new coach and quarterback, more work is definitely needed.

“We didn’t come in the first half to play,” Harrell said. “ got behind early, had too many turnovers. We just didn’t play well enough to win.”

Click here to read “Howard & Morgan Take Rivalry North to a Big Stage in the Big Apple”

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO