BALTIMORE, Md.--For the second time in three weeks, a Morgan State University (MSU) football game came down to the last minute. Only this time, it didn't work out for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Bears as they lose a heartbreaker on Saturday Oct. 13 at Hughes Stadium in Baltimore, Md. to the North Carolina Central University (NCCU) Eagles 24-20.
North Carolina Central redshirt junior quarterback Jordan Reid's 26-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Detwan Robinson with 25.6 seconds left was the difference. This was the first homecoming loss for the Bears since Oct. 21, 2006 when they lost to Delaware State 29-7.
MSU senior defensive lineman Bakari Smith said about the touchdown play, “Those guys were kind of big. So when we went to hit him, they were just missing tackles. We should've wrapped up more. We should've stopped him where he caught the ball. He got too many yards after the catch. That's what it was.”
Head coach Donald Hill-Eley followed, “It was one of those situations. (Robinson) made a good catch on the ball. Probably it's some different things that we could've done. But it shouldn't have [come] down to that.”
The Eagles opened up the game scoring with a Andre Clark 5-yard touchdown run on a fourth and two play with 9:34 left in the first quarter. The extra point gave NCCU the 7-0 lead.
Morgan State answered when sophomore defensive back Nathan Ayers picked off a Reid pass with 5:07 left in the first quarter. That led to kicker Ervin Gonzalez' 47-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3.
MSU Senior running back Travis Davidson took over in the second quarter. Davidson scored on a 5-yard run with 10:11 remaining in the half and a 7-yard scamper with 2:05 remaining before halftime. Those scores helped Morgan State (3-3, 2-1 MEAC) to a 17-7 advantage. Davidson rushed for 105 yards in 18 attempts, scoring two touchdowns and fumbling once. Davidson also recorded 60 yards receiving.
NCCU ((4-2, 3-0 MEAC) answered back with a 35-yard field goal by kicker Oleg Parent at the halftime horn to draw within 17-10.
The second half proved to be issue filled for the Bears. NCCU made an immediate impact with the play of redshirt sophomore linebacker Ty Brown.
Brown stripped Davidson on the first play of the third quarter, giving the ball to the Eagles.
“You're never happy about any (turnover),” explained Hill, “but to let the team down on that very first play… We've already said that we got momentum. Let's go out, drive the football and make our plays. We turn it over and put (NCCU) right back in the ballgame. The rest is history.”
Moments later, senior running back Arthur Goforth scrambled into the end zone from ten yards out with 14:26 remaining. The extra point from Parent tied the game at 17.
It was a while before Morgan showed up on the scoreboard again. Gonzalez booted a 34-yard field goal with 9:05 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Bears a 20-17 advantage.
NCCU's last offensive possession took them 47 yards in 7 plays, consuming only 2:07 of the clock. The big play came from Smith, who sacked Reid early in that drive to give the Bears some momentum.
However, the Eagles' next big play took place on a fourth and two. Reid threw the ball to Robinson on the 10. The tight end shed a pair of Morgan tacklers and rumbled to the end zone.
Reid completed 29 of 38 passes for 261 yards, a touchdown and an interception while Morgan State redshirt sophomore quarterback Robert Council connected on 8 of 18 passes for just 91 yards on the afternoon.
Morgan hardly has time to recover because they travel to Washington, D.C. for a showdown at Howard University’s homecoming on Oct. 20. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. in Greene Stadium.