Junior Robert Council earned his third consecutive start and his fourth of the season, but the quarterback did not remain there when the Morgan State football team closed out a 24-23 win over North Carolina A&T on Saturday.
Council was replaced in the fourth quarter by junior Seth Higgins, who had not played since spraining his right (throwing) shoulder in the team’s 34-22 win against North Carolina Central on Oct. 19.
Council completed 8-of-17 passes for 122 yards and carried the ball 16 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns, but he also was intercepted in the final quarter, which the Aggies turned into a field goal and a 23-14 advantage.
Higgins went 4-of-7 for 49 yards and a touchdown and rushed 10 times for 48 yards. The offense scored 10 points with the Edgewood graduate under center.
Asked to explain his thought process behind the quarterback switch in the fourth quarter, coach Donald Hill-Eley said Tuesday morning, “I thought Council was doing well with what he was doing. [Offensive coordinator Gordon] Gregory maintains the tempo of that offense and Council was doing well. He had some things and he had some balls get away from him, and at that late in the game, when you throw an interception and it leads to a touchdown, you can just see the morale in the guys go, ‘Aw, man!’ And now to have Seth who was still injured, it was like he was ready to go, and the kids were like, ‘Let’s go.’ He went out and he performed at that level. It added to the whole morale of the team and the guys around him. I think what we needed to do at that particular time was more telling for a Seth Higgins than a Robert Council.”
The performances of both quarterbacks would seem to shroud that position in more mystery for Thursday night’s game at South Carolina State (7-3, 5-1). Hill-Eley was not tipping his hand about whether Council or Higgins will start against the Bulldogs.
“It’s just good to be in a position to have the probability of both of them playing,” he said. “They both do different things well. It’s not that Council can’t throw the ball, and it’s not that Seth can’t run the ball. It’s just good to be able to know that you’ve got guys that have game experience and you could play either one of them and we can change up speeds here and there and maybe create some kind of advantage for us.”
Hill-Eley may not reveal his starter’s identity, but South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough said his team does not need to know which quarterback will play.
“I think you’ve got to kind of prepare for both,” he said Tuesday. “The Council kid is a local kid from down in these parts, and I’m sure he’ll be fighting in every kind of way you can imagine to maintain his position in the whole scheme of things. And the Higgins kid has stats, too. It looks like they’ve been playing both guys, and we’ve seen a third guy, too. … They’re not that much different in what offense they run for one guy versus another. We’ve just got to be prepared to deal with some hard-nosed guys because they are big and tough and they can run and throw.”