Howard University opened the 2015 NCAA football season with a 49-0 loss to Appalachian State University in a non-conference game on Sept. 5 in Boone, N.C.

Appalachian State capped off a 7-5 season in 2014 by winning their last six games, claiming third place in the Sun Belt Conference. Of the 22 players from last year, 20 returned for this season as the Mountaineers try to build off of that success.

Howard has a history of giving up big plays, and Appalachian State capitalized on that weakness. Without the leadership of senior linebacker Devin Rollins—out indefinitely with an injury—Howard’s defense was unable to keep up.

In the second quarter, junior running back Marcus Cox ran 68 yards for a touchdown. A few minutes later, starting quarterback sophomore Taylor Lamb completed a pass to sophomore wide receiver Shaedon Meadors for a 50-yard touchdown. Lamb connected with senior wide receiver Simms McElfresh for two more touchdowns of 17 and 20 yards.

Lamb completed 15-of-20 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns in the shutout.

After winning the last four games of 2014 to finish with a 5-7 record, Howard—who unveiled a new Bison logo over the summer—is trying to figure out a new identity.

Former quarterback Greg McGhee, a two-time Mid Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) player of the year, produced a majority of Howard’s offense during his notable four-year career with the Bison. After leading the conference in total offense in 2014, McGhee moved on to the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League.

Enter red-shirt freshman quarterback Kalen Johnson, who struggled in his first collegiate start, completing 12-of-20 passes for 119 yards and one interception.

Howard head coach Gary “Flea” Harrell called on senior running back Aquanius Freeman—who rushed for 421 yards and caught 36 passes last season—to take some of the pressure off the young quarterback. Freeman led the pace of Howard’s offense, and accounted for nearly half of Howard’s 172 yards. He finished with 12 carries for 24 yards and five receptions for 48 yards.

Up Next: Howard faces another non-conference opponent in Boston College on Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. in Chestnut Hill, Mass.