By MARK F. GRAY, Special to the AFRO

The races in the MEAC and CIAA have entered the stretch drive and Bowie State, Howard, and Morgan State needed white-knuckle victories to keep their championship chances alive.  By winning last weekend each team can look ahead to key games this Saturday that will shape the balance of the season.

Homecoming Win Keeps Bowie St. in CIAA Race

Bowie State played themselves back into the CIAA north division race with a 20-15 homecoming victory over Virginia State.  The Bulldogs nationally ranked high powered offense sputtered in the first half but two second half scores were the difference in the game.

It was a must win game for Bowie who previously lost the week before at Chowan and needed to beat the defending conference champs to stay in contention to win the north division.  The Bulldogs wasted two scoring chances in the Trojans red zone and yielded a safety from a bad snap during the first half.

Amir Hall, the reigning national HBCU Player of the Year, only completed 16 of 24 passes for a season low, 171 yards with two touchdowns. The dynamic playmaker is hampered by injuries that are limiting his mobility. He is being forced to stay in the pocket with teams playing pass coverages that are designed to stop their quick strike offense.

Bowie’s offense took a massive hit when his primary target – senior receiver Lesana Sesay – was lost to a lower leg injury.  Montez Clay filled the void with two touchdown catches including the 22-yard game winner with 5:11 remaining in the third quarter.

Virginia St. quarterback Corderal Cook engineered the comeback from a 20-2 deficit with 215 yards passing and 83 yards rushing which led the team. Cook scored their first touchdown on an 11-yard run late in the third quarter. Daniel Reid capped a swift, five play 72-yard drive, in just 1:22 with a one yard touchdown pulling them to within the final margin of six points. However, the Trojans missed their two-point conversion attempt forcing them to play for a touchdown on the final possession, but Bowie St.’s defense held.

Next: at Virginia Union

Howard Blasts Delaware State 55-13

Half of Howard quarterback Cailyn Newton’s passes were completed for touchdowns as the Bison rebounded from a tough loss at North Carolina Central by thumping Delaware State in the District. Newton completed only 10 of 24 passes for 313 yards and five touchdowns as the Bison rolled to 511 yards total offense.

Coach Rod Milstead, who played for Washington’s professional franchise as an offensive lineman during parts of the 1989 and 1990 seasons, watched as his alma mater was torched by Newton who continues making his case for this year’s national player of the year award.

Jequeze Ezzard was Newton’s main target catching with four receptions netting 191 yards and three scores. Ezzard averaged nearly 48 per catch in helping lead Howard to the victory.

Next: at Morgan St.

Holmes Recovers Fumble for TD as Bears Win

Morgan State had been waiting for Notre Dame transfer Corey Holmes to make his impact in their passing game all season.  However, the difference he made at Savannah State was being in the right place at the right time to help them preserve their potential last victory in South Georgia.

Holmes recovered a fumble late in the third quarter which proved to be the difference as the Bears held on for an 18-11 victory at Savannah State in their final against the Tigers as a MEAC opponent.  Morgan finishes their conference record 11-0 all-time against the peach state rival who is heading back to Division II next season.

Next: vs Howard