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Last-second Morgan State field goal secures second straight comeback win

FootballSeth HigginsNorth Carolina A&T AggiesMorgan State UniversityNorth Carolina Central EaglesMid-Eastern Athletic Conference

A second straight fourth-quarter comeback gave Morgan State a second straight win Saturday. But this one came down even closer to the wire.

A week after a Bears touchdown with 26 seconds remaining secured a narrow win over Hampton, kicker Chris Moller made a go-ahead 27-yard field goal with 1.9 seconds left for a thrilling 24-23 victory over North Carolina A&T.

Trailing the Aggies (5-4, 2-4 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) 23-14 in the fourth quarter, Morgan (4-6, 4-2) stormed back before an announced 6,478 at Hughes Stadium.

With junior quarterback Robert Council struggling in the second half, Bears coach Donald Hill-Eley made a change.

After Council threw a fourth-quarter interception, he was benched. Although Council had led the Bears to a 14-10 lead at the half, finishing the game with 16 carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns, Hill-Eley felt the Bears needed someone else under center.

“Council had had a couple of high balls. … He really didn’t have a rhythm at the end of the game,” Hill-Eley said.

In came junior quarterback Seth Higgins (Edgewood). Trailing by nine, with less than nine minutes to play, Higgins went to work.

His first drive went 73 yards on six plays. He found wide receiver Antonio Jefferson in the left corner of the end zone for a 9-yard score to cap off the drive. Jefferson had separated himself from two Aggie defenders, and his catch made it 23-21.

Then came the game-winning drive. On their own 46, the Bears began moving the ball downfield, just as they did last week in their nail-biting 30-27 win against Hampton. Only this time, Higgins was in charge, not Council.

“We went with Seth. … It was just good being that he came off that [shoulder] injury, that he was able to get that arm warm enough to go ahead and lead us down the field,” Hill-Eley said.

It was Higgins’ first appearance in a game this season since spraining his right shoulder against North Carolina Central on Oct. 19.

On second-and-20, from Morgan’s 49, Higgins took the snap and ran left. As he scrambled out of the pocket, he targeted Ladarius Spearman, who was along the sideline.

Spearman caught the pass for a 28-yard gain before getting out of bounds to stop the clock.

“That was the key play on that drive,” Higgins said.

Higgins seemed ready for the moment. In his return from injury, there didn’t appear to be any nerves.

“It’s like riding a bike,” Higgins said. “You never really forget.”

After the Bears ran the clock down on a few running plays, Hill-Eley called on Moller to complete the comeback.

“Snap, hold, everything was good, so I had to come through for the team,” Moller said. “I had to make it.”

The kick was a no-doubter, splitting the uprights as time expired and the Bears rushed the field to celebrate.

Asked what the kick felt like, Moller answered: “Indescribable.”

jphogan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jphogan9

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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FootballSeth HigginsNorth Carolina A&T AggiesMorgan State UniversityNorth Carolina Central EaglesMid-Eastern Athletic Conference
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