By MARK F. GRAY, Special to the AFRO

The common theme that binds Howard, Morgan State, and Bowie State is there’s no D being played in DMV when it matters most. Defense cost all three, leaving them fighting for their championship lives last weekend.

S.C. STATE SPOILS HOMECOMING AT MORGAN

Breakdowns in all three phases of the game doomed Morgan versus South Carolina State on homecoming at Hughes Stadium and Earl C. Banks Field.  The Bears, blew a fourth quarter lead when the Bulldogs marched 80 yards in seven plays in 1:14 for a game winning touchdown 21-18, handing the Bears a gut wrenching loss in the official Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opener for both teams.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, a former Morgan State cheerleader, flanked by MSU President David Wilson (l) and current head of the school’s Board of Regents Kweisi Mfume, enjoys halftime ceremonies at homecoming. However, the Bears lost the game to SC State 21-18. (Photo By Mark Gray)

Morgan stuck to its script by pounding on the young S.C. State defense with a rushing attack that gained 198 yards. Quarterback DeAndre’ Harris led them with 78 yards while improvising and William King did his damage by gaining 73 on 16 carries.  However, Harris threw two critical interceptions that thwarted scoring opportunities in S.C. State territory. Notre Dame transfer Corey Holmes finally made his presence felt with four receptions and 73 yards and a touchdown.

However, Alex Raya, who kicked the game winning walk off field goal to beat A&T missed from 52, 40, and 27 yards. If either had split the uprights Morgan would have at least forced overtime.  After Jordan Riggins scored on a 13 yard run early in the fourth quarter to give them a 18-14 lead Morgan needed to the top ranked FCS defense to protect the lead.

The Bears defense wilted after Raya’s final miss setting the Bulldogs for their final march. Nick Tyrese hit Omar Cummings with a 23 yard touchdown pass for the final margin of victory for S.C. State. Morgan’s last drive ended when Harris was intercepted by Scott Robinson to preserve the victory for the Bulldogs.

NEXT: at SAVANNAH ST.

HOWARD LOSES ON LATE SCORE AT N.C. CENTRAL

Cailyn Newton’s heroics weren’t enough for Howard to beat North Carolina Central.  Despite Newton’s 458 yards of total offense the Bison’ defense couldn’t put the clamps on the Eagles in the fourth quarter as they fell 40-35.

Newton passed for 381 yards and three touchdowns using his talented duo of receivers to shred the N.C. Central defense.  Jequeze Ezzard and Kyle Anthony combined for 17 catches 321 yards and three scores.

Howard trailed 31-26 heading into the fourth quarter as the defense couldn’t stop NCCU quarterback Chauncey Caldwell.  Caldwell passed for 311 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another 153 and with a score.  Despite his efforts the Eagles found themselves trailing late in the final period.

Khalid Dorsey’s 19 yard touchdown run gave Howard a 35-34 lead with 6:19 remaining in the game putting the games in the hands of their defense.  Caldwell engineered the NCCU comeback by with a 66-yard, nine-play drive, capped by his three yard TD run putting them ahead for good.  Newton drove the Bison to NCCU’s 17, but Marcus Martin intercepted him in the end zone to preserve the win.

Next vs. DELAWARE STATE

CHOWAN UPSETS BOWIE STATE

Bowie State’s CIAA Championship hopes were dealt a severe blow as Chowan in Murfreesboro, N.C, dominated them 42-23. It was the first time the Hawks beat the Bulldogs in four years.

Amir Hall passed for 428 yards moving into second place all time on the CIAA’s all time passing list and Lesana Sesay had seven receptions for a career high 195 yards for the Bulldogs who were dominated thoroughly.  Chowan turned two Bowie State turnovers into 14 points which put them in a hole that was ultimately too deep. The Hawks defense also held the Bulldogs to just two of 10 conversions on third down.

Chowan kept the ball from Bowie State over 10 minutes of the fourth quarter to thwart any comeback attempt.

Next: vs VIRGINIA STATE (HOMECOMING)