It’s been a while since the words “Howard Homecoming” actually meant something, but even with a .500 record in the Mid-Atlantic Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), the Howard Bison were primed to do battle with the MEAC-leading North Carolina A&T Aggies.

After jumping out to a 13-0 lead, the Bison (4-4., 3-2) held on to win a 35-28 overtime thriller on Oct. 22 at Greene Stadium in Washington, D.C. over the Aggies (4-3, 3-1). A large crowd was on hand thanks to a slew of star-studded weekend events, and Howard used the momentum of an electric home crowd to record their fourth win of the season, the most for the school since a 4-7 campaign in the 2007 season.

A&T senior running back Mike Mayhew tied the game at 21-21 at the top of the fourth quarter after a 66-yard touchdown dash. But Howard freshman running back Aquanius Freeman returned the kickoff 82 yards to put his team ahead 28-21. The freshman’s touchdown marked the longest score for Howard this season and appeared to close the door on North Carolina, but the Aggies would bounce back with a six-play, 43-yard drive to even the score and force overtime.

Howard struck first in the extra period on a short run from senior running back Terrence Leffall to go ahead by 7, but the Aggies had a chance to tie shortly thereafter. On 4th-and-four, the Bison stopped Aggies quarterback Lewis Kindle a yard short of the goal line. As the referee signaled no touchdown, the fans at Greene Stadium erupted as emotion flowed throughout the audience.

From the emotional victory to the crowed stands, head coach Gary Harrell continued to lead Howard to a successful season. When Harrell was hired earlier in the year, he said he wanted to put Howard back on the map, and so far the Bison have regained respect around the District.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO