Second-year Morgan State coach Ricky Diggs wasn't sure what to expect from his team when it played at Buffalo last Saturday.
"I was interested to see how they would respond to winning," Diggs said. "It's something new."
So far, so good.
In Diggs' first season at Morgan State, the only victory came in the season finale. The Bears are starting faster this time, as they followed their Sept. 26 victory over Johnson C. Smith with a 45-27 win Saturday at Buffalo. They're 2-2, only the second year since 1982 that Morgan State posted more than one victory.
One also has to go back a decade, when the Bears were still in Division II, to find the last time they won three in a row. That will be the objective Saturday (1:30 p.m.), when Morgan State travels to South Carolina State for a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game.
It will be the fourth time in five games Morgan State has played on the road, and Diggs likes the way his young team has responded in the wake of season-ending injuries to senior linebacker Marc Roberts (Milford Mill), junior wide receiver Dante Carter (Carver), junior defensive back Mario Rivers and senior running back James Arnold.
Eric Johnson, a freshman out of Parkville High, replaced Rivers at free safety and is Morgan State's leading tackler. Bernard Barnes, a sophomore wide receiver from Joppatowne, dropped three passes against Johnson C. Smith, but had scoring receptions at Buffalo covering 19 and 21 yards.
Morgan State has matched last year's total of 17 touchdowns, and two transfers have had a lot to do with that. Tony Phillips is averaging 96 yards rushing, most in the MEAC, and Jesse Humphrey's 20 catches rank second in the conference.
Junior Orlando Persell, who began the season sharing the quarterback job, has raised his completion rate to 50 percent. He's 42 of 84 for 619 yards and eight touchdowns, four to Humphrey.
Western Maryland and Frostburg State didn't crack the initial NCAA Division III South rankings, but were among the teams receiving votes. The rankings serve as a guide to the postseason, as the South is one of four regions that send four teams each to the NCAA tournament.
Frostburg State lost to No. 2 Lycoming, 13-6, in the opener, but the Bobcats have won three straight since. Last Saturday they nipped Wesley (Del.), 17-13, on Jimmy Carter's 3-yard touchdown run with 47 seconds left.
Frostburg State is averaging 337 yards in total offense, thanks in part to three senior offensive linemen from the area.
Paul Kumpar (Mount St. Joseph) is a three-year starter at center, and he's flanked by guards Kyle Alexander (Westminster) on the right and Pat Pokorny (Loyola) on the left.
Green Terrors streak
Western Maryland's winning streak is up to four, its best in 24 years, but the Green Terrors want to stop emulating the 1968 team after Saturday's game at Randolph-Macon. Western Maryland started 5-0 in 1968, but lost its last four.
The current Green Terrors could be excused for looking ahead to Week 6, when Dickinson comes to Westminster for an important Centennial Conference game.
An overlooked ingredient in Western Maryland's quick start was its March 17 game in Moscow, when it became the first U.S. college team to play in Russia. Division III teams aren't normally allowed spring practice, but Sprague's veteran team got 10 extra practice sessions.
Arbutina excels for Towson
The Towson State defense shut down Liberty the last three quarters of the Flames' 16-14 victory at Minnegan Stadium on Saturday. Sophomore linebacker Mike Arbutina (Bowie) came up big for the Tigers with 11 unassisted tackles.
Towson State sacked Liberty's Robbie Justino four times, senior tackle Doug Irvin getting his fourth in as many games.
Terps' Washington gets MRI
Maryland sophomore running back Larry Washington (Randallstown) underwent a magnetic resonance imaging on his right knee last night and is scheduled to receive results today.
The original diagnosis was a sprained right knee. The injury occurred in the second quarter Saturday night against Pittsburgh. Washington was on crutches yesterday.