DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—After a slow start, Hampton's offense caught fire in the first half Saturday against Bethune-Cookman.
In the second half, though, the fire went out.
"We had several chances," said Hampton coach Donovan Rose. "We were on the 4-yard line, and we didn't score. That's big.
"Somehow, we've got to make the plays. They made one more than we did. That's the difference."
Hampton, which led 24-20 at the half, lost the lead when Bethune-Cookman scored on Johnathan Moment's 19-yard run in the third quarter. Then the Pirates offense began to falter again.
Hampton's lingering headache began when freshman kicker Jordan Stovall missed on 41- and 20-yard field goal attempts in the third and fourth quarter, respectively. Then Hampton came up empty twice with possession deep in Wildcats territory.
Hampton's best opportunity to recapture the lead came after defensive lineman Bryant Miller sacked Wildcats quarterback Matt Johnson in the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Johnson fumbled, and defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis recovered it at the 4-yard line to set up first-and-goal.
The Pirates, though, failed to convert on three run plays, and Stovall's 20-yard field goal attempt hit the right post. Later, Hampton (4-5, 2-4) came up empty when Rose opted against a field goal try on fourth-and-9 from the Wildcats' 27-yard line. A defensive penalty moved HU five yards closer to the first down, but Bethune-Cookman (4-5, 3-3) took over on downs after quarterback David Legree threw incomplete on fourth down.
With 3:24 to play, Hampton blanked again. On third-and-10 from the Pirates' 37-yard line, Legree threw 15 yards downfield to Steve Robinson, who dropped the ball after appearing to turn upfield before he had it tucked away.
Hampton punted, and it appeared Bethune-Cookman would run out the clock. The Wildcats, though, fumbled the ball on a first-down play with 1:15 left when quarterback Maurice Francois failed to handle the shotgun snap.
Michael Swett, who had two sacks in the game, recovered at the Wildcats' 32-yard line. Two run plays put the Pirates at Bethune-Cookman's 19-yard line with 48 seconds to play.
On second down, Legree threw into double coverage in the left corner of the end zone. Reginald Hicks leapt high at the end of a fade route, but the deep defender, Mike Williams, intercepted the pass after running up from the back of the end zone.
LaMarcus Coker said the team's inability to produce in the second half was the difference.
"We came out a little flat in the third quarter, and the penalties and poor execution stopped us," said Coker, who rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Legree had a pair of first-half TD passes but finished 10-for-27 passing for 113 yards with an interception.
"We've got to learn from this. It's a long trip home," Rose said. "But we're going to keep moving forward."
BETHUNE-COOKMAN 27, HAMPTON 24
|Time of poss||24:51||35:09|
Next gameWHO: Florida A&M (7-2, 5-1 MEAC) at Hampton (4-5, 2-4).
WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday.