Morgan State set the tone for yesterday's homecoming game on its opening drive.
Unfortunately for the Golden Bears, that drive was two plays and featured a sack for a 20-yard loss and a Delaware State fumble recovery in the end zone.
The quick touchdown and a couple of costly penalties helped the visiting Hornets race to a 28-0 halftime lead and take a 35-14 victory before 7,686 fans at Hughes Stadium.
The loss dropped the Golden Bears deeper in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference standings, extended their losing streak to three games, and marked the 18th consecutive year that Morgan (3-4, 1-3) has lost on homecoming.
The Bears, who were trying to recover mentally and physically from last week's 55-7 loss to North Carolina A&T;, scored their points in the third quarter. Morgan State quarterback Otis Covington, who has been nursing a sore right ankle, was inserted in the second half and the move paid off immediately with two scoring drives.
Covington passed 18 yards and 6 yards for touchdowns to Tyrone Smith to make it 28-14 with 4: 51 left in the third quarter.
Morgan's defense held the Hornets on three plays but was flagged for roughing the kicker.
"That roughing the kicker changed the whole momentum of the ballgame because we were on a roll," said Morgan coach Stump Mitchell, whose team must prepare to visit MEAC front-runner Florida A&M; next Saturday in Tallahassee. "I really believe that if we don't get that penalty, we walk away winners today. It was a killer."
There were other causes.
The ejection of Morgan linebacker James Hall for fighting early in the first quarter didn't help. Neither did the five turnovers and 13 penalties for 107 yards.
"We play hard but we need to get some discipline," Morgan defensive end Willie Thompson said.
Said Covington: "It seemed like every time we had a positive play we would get some kind of penalty to set us back."
Willie McGirt, a product of Patterson High, started at quarterback for the Bears and was replaced by Justin Washington.
In two quarters, Covington completed 20 of 39 passes, including two interceptions and a 42-yarder to Na'im Greene.
Any hopes Morgan had of staging a comeback ended when Thalamus Trammel ran 75 yards for a touchdown with 2: 16 left.
"I think Morgan's program is really growing by leaps and bounds and it's great to come in here and get a win," said Delaware State's Bill Collick, who is in danger of coaching his first losing season in 12 years. His team is 3-5.
Next for Morgan
Opponent: Florida A&M;
Site: Bragg Memorial Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
When: Saturday, 3 p.m.
Pub Date: 10/27/96