Stanley Mitchell -- three days after Morgan State's third win in 22 tries -- had three remaining days to prepare his team for a road game against a Division I-AA power.
But on Tuesday morning, the first-year football coach needed to assure those inside Hill Field House of a happy homecoming for Morgan State at PSINet Stadium, more than two weeks from now. It was a tough sell, and Mitchell nearly stumbled, but he made a case for the Bears.
Mitchell said his team (1-2, 0-1 in the MEAC) could beat anyone if it could get the offense, defense and special teams to show up at one time, something yet to happen in three games this season, including Saturday's 24-21 win at Rhode Island.
Indeed, the Bears performed well against a solid Bethune-Cookman team three weeks ago and might have been one misguided onside-kick attempt away from being 2-1.
"We're 1-2, but we're the best 1-2 team in the conference," Mitchell said, before offering his only caveat: "I feel good about the team, but I don't know which team will show up."
However, he said of the Oct. 16 game against North Carolina A&T;: "We are going to guarantee a homecoming victory."
Only one homecoming win (last year's 15-13 defeat of winless Delaware State) in 20 years can be used to support that pledge. Weighing more heavily is Saturday's game at 18th-ranked Florida A&M;, which could be ugly enough to demolish win predictions for any week.
Though there are Morgan seniors who probably can't forget the 83-12 game in 1996, Mitchell said, "76-17 doesn't faze us," referring to the Rattlers' win over South Carolina State last week.
Other football: A loss last weekend in Kings Point, N.Y., marked the third straight season the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy has diminished the prospects of Johns Hopkins. The 24-20 defeat was the Blue Jays' first of the season; it remains to see if losses to Dickinson and Western Maryland loom ahead, as they did in 1997 and 1998.
Western Maryland and Frostburg State remain in the AFCA Top 25, the Green Terror at No. 8 and the Bobcats at No. 17.
Salisbury State, which took a 42-13 beating at Greensboro last weekend, could have selected a better homecoming opponent than Catholic, the No. 20 team in Division III, and the second straight Top 20 team that the Sea Gulls have faced for homecoming, having played the College of New Jersey last season.
Bowie State started the season with four quarterbacks, but is down to one after part-time starter Joe Cannady was kicked off the team for a violation of team rules last weekend after a 42-14 loss to Livingstone. The team will start Jimmy Whitehead and is moving Leonard Walker to quarterback from wide receiver.
For the fourth straight week, the Bulldogs had a player honored by the CIAA, this time Woodlawn product and defensive back Harry Brunson.
At Johns Hopkins, both teams are ranked in the Top 25. The women (8-2-1) achieved their first-ever national ranking at No. 25, led by Kathleen Hanlon, who scored or assisted on every Hopkins goal in wins over Messiah and Haverford.
The Blue Jays are tied for first in the Centennial Conference with Western Maryland (5-2), which can tie a school record Saturday with six straight wins. Green Terror senior Beth Blasi had her third career hat trick in an 8-0 win over Washington College on Tuesday.
The JHU men continue their Top Five stay at No. 3, having appeared in the last 27 NSCAA polls. Next Saturday, the Blue Jays meet Salisbury State's men's team, which broke into the Top 25 for the first time at No. 16.
For the Sea Gulls (6-1), the game is part of a string of six consecutive road games that began with a 13-0 win Tuesday at Gallaudet. Goalie Mike Svehla leads the team with five shutouts.
UMBC continues undefeated (7-0-1), tying Fairleigh Dickinson and beating Sacred Heart over the weekend. The Towson men are undefeated over the last five games, tying three games in a row to go 2-0-3.
John Carroll alumnus Tim Buckless scored his first career goal to lift the Washington College men's team over Franklin and Marshall.
The American Volleyball Coaches Association named Catonsville High alumna and Frostburg State star Shannon Rexrode as its Player of the Week for Division III.
Rexrode, in helping the Bobcats to a 10-1 record and No. 8 national ranking, registered 109 kills, 42 blocks and hit .373 in five matches. The Bobcats are tops in the Mid-Atlantic region, while Western Maryland is No. 7 in that region.
Chrissy Horan recently became the first women's volleyball player at Johns Hopkins to record 1,000 kills in a career. UMBC holds the Northeast Conference golf championships Monday and Tuesday at Clustered Spires GC in Frederick. Towson had two named America East scholar-athletes for the winter and spring seasons -- baseball's Jason Rummel and Stephanie Knouse of women's tennis.
Pub Date: 10/01/99