Ricky Diggs thought it was Central State's reputation, and not the Marauders' talent, that flicked aside Morgan State yesterday.
The Bears had a one-point lead in the final minute of the first half, but they collapsed over the last 10:23 of the third quarter, when Central State scored five touchdowns that quickly added up to a 51-29 victory. A crowd of 8,023 watched the reversal at Hughes )) Stadium.
"It's unbelievable, just unbelievable," said Diggs, the Bears' second-year coach. "I mentioned it to the team after the game, that maybe we were surprised to be in that position at the half. The game doesn't end then, and we weren't mentally prepared to play the last 30 minutes."
Morgan State dropped to 2-4, while the Marauders from Wilberforce, Ohio, improved to 6-1. After taking the NAIA Division I title in 1990 and losing in the final last year, coach Billy Joe's team could bring more honors to a program that has considerable stature among historically black colleges.
Morgan took a 15-14 lead on two touchdown passes by Maurice Chase, a junior from Lexington Park who made the most of his second collegiate start. Chase threw for a school-record 322 yards but was sacked 11 times.
Central State got 162 yards rushing from senior tailback Charles Thompson, who was last seen quarterbacking quarterbacked Oklahoma in 1988, before he served a jail sentence for a drug-related offense. Quarterback Henderson Mosley, one of the top athletes to come out of Washington in the 1980s, would have thrown for more than the 158 yards he was credited with if his receivers hadn't dropped a half-dozen balls.
Central State got two interceptions from Robert Thomas, a senior cornerback who graduated from Milford Mill High in 1988.
Central State scored on its first two series, driving 77 yards and 22 after the first of several good punt returns by Marvin Coleman, but Chase brought Morgan back in a hurry with touchdown drives of 82 and 79 yards.
Tony Moore was flagged for taunting on his 34-yard touchdown catch, but he later took a bad conversion snap and ran it in for two points and a 15-14 lead with 11:54 left in the second quarter.
Morgan State's defense stiffened at the same time its passing game disappeared, and Central State needed a 35-yard field goal by Jose Molina to go up 17-15 with 31 seconds left in the half.
The Bears went into hibernation in the third quarter, when the Ma
ruaders' five touchdowns came in rapid order.
* Mosley's 25-yard pass to Leroy Perkins completed a 55-yard yard drive with 10:23 left.
* Thomas' first interception set up Mosley's 12-yard pass to Sean DuBose with 7:40 left.
* Less than 90 seconds later, Thompson turned another swing pass into a 23-yard touchdown, ending a five-play, 63-yard drive.
* Two minutes later, the Bears botched a fake punt. Rodney Harris picked up the loose ball and ran 35 yards to make it 44-15.
* After Coleman's 30-yard punt return, the Marauders needed to move just 18 yards for their final touchdown, which fullback Glen Braxton got on a 1-yard dive on the last play of the third quarter.
Next for Morgan:Delaware State
When: Saturday, at Baltimore
Yesterday: Beat Florida A&M;, 22-20.
Last year: The Hornets scored 16 unanswered second-half points to win at Dover, 26-10.