Morgan State didn't "shock the world" as first-year coach Stump Mitchell proclaimed it would this season, but the Bears did stun visiting Hampton University in yesterday's season finale before 1,275 at Hughes Stadium.
The Bears, who had dropped six straight games after starting the season 3-1, scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes and escaped with an emotionally draining 23-22 victory.
Morgan senior quarterback Otis Covington, still hampered by an ankle injury, hit wide receiver Tyrone Smith on a 34-yard touchdown pass with four seconds remaining to knot the score at 22 and place-kicker Shane Griffiths followed with what proved be the winning extra point.
The Bears (4-6), infamous for letting opponents off the hook, were hit with a personal foul call on the ensuing kickoff return, which enabled the Pirates' Todd Covington to attempt a 42-yard field goal with no time left on the clock. Fortunately for the Bears, who were penalized 15 times for 119 yards, Tory Davis was there to bat it down.
"This is a bittersweet moment because we, as a coaching staff, had much greater expectations coming into the season," said Mitchell. "We won three games in a row and instead of acting like winners, we acted like losers and became an undisciplined ballclub. We thought someone owed us something because we had won three games and it was tough getting it back on track.
"We have some outstanding football players on this team, but unfortunately today was the only day that we felt a sense of urgency."
Morgan's comeback effort officially began with 3: 36 to go. That's when senior wide receiver Vernon Satterwhite leaped over Hampton defensive back Winston Cox, pulled down a Covington pass and ran untouched for a 73-yard touchdown. Griffiths added the extra point to take what proved to be a short-lived 16-15 advantage.
"This win kind of hurts because we know the teams that beat us this season should have never beat us," said Smith, who caught three passes for 63 yards and one touchdown.
"There wasn't anybody as good as us. Today, we decided to come together as a team and we came out victorious."
The Bears appeared to have the victory sealed after Davis forced a fumble by Hampton freshman quarterback Roy Johnson that was recovered by James Hall with 3: 22 left. But after a Morgan punt, the Pirates got the ball back 39 seconds later and drove 90 yards in six plays to go back ahead.
Johnson capped the 52-second drive with a 23-yard strike to Michael Jenkins (nine catches, 136 yards) that put the visitors out front, 22-16 with 1: 51 remaining.
Senior running back Daryl Ray picked up 51 yards on 10 carries for the Bears in the first half that ended with Hampton (5-6) leading 9-6. Senior tailback Wesley Green put the Bears on the board first with an 11-yard run. Hampton scored nine unanswered points, the first three coming on a 39-yard field goal by Todd Covington and the other six on a 5-yard touchdown run by Antonio Ricks.
"Us seniors wanted to go out with a win and we relayed that to the other players," said Covington, who completed 24 of 44 passes for 311 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"We were relaxed in the locker room before the game but when we got out there on the field, everybody came out to play and played hard. That was the difference today, we all came out and played hard for four quarters."
Pub Date: 11/24/96