DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- As bad as things started out for Morgan State yesterday afternoon, it could have been much worse.
By the time the Bears earned their initial first down of the game on a pass-interference penalty with 13:44 left in the first half, Bethune-Cookman had a 37-point lead.
The Wildcats parlayed their highest-scoring quarter in 53 years into a 44-26 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory before a homecoming crowd of 10,580.
The alumni barely had time to sit down before Bethune-Cookman quarterback Jimmie Russell - last week's MEAC Offensive Player of the Week - scored on runs of 19, 9 and 20 yards to stake the Wildcats to a 30-0 first-period lead.
"I'm very disappointed with the first quarter," Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "I know you can't take away the first quarter, but if you could, it was a pretty good ballgame after that.
"Bethune-Cookman is right up there with the Hamptons and teams like that. They're always ranked and playing for championships. They've built their program. We took over our program three years ago with a lot of young talent. It still has to be nurtured."
Russell added a 58-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Summers on the second play of the second quarter, then had touchdown passes of 48 yards to Summers and 38 yards to P.J. Smith called back because of penalties.
Russell finished with a game-best 128 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Eric Weems added 113 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown for the Wildcats (4-1, 2-0).
"You could see our inexperience trying to stop their triple-option," Hill-Eley said. "You could tell we hadn't seen it before this year. You need discipline to stop it. I'm going to blame it on youth because I could see the effort."
Morgan State (1-4, 0-2) tried to rally, scoring twice within 60 seconds late in the second quarter to close to within 37-12 at the half. Byron Selby threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Kelvin Dickens, then, after a Wildcats turnover, Selby ran for a 3-yard touchdown.
Selby added a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns - on a 19-yard pass to Jai Wilson and a 5-yard run.
Wilson led Morgan's receivers with five catches for 65 yards; Dickens had five for 59 yards.
"They just came out with a lot more energy than we did," said Selby, who led the Bears with 73 yards on the ground on 16 carries and completed 20 of 46 passes for 223 yards and two interceptions.
Morgan, which had just 97 total yards on 40 offensive plays in the first half, finished with 329 total yards.
"I thought we showed a lot of character the way we hung in there," Hill-Eley said. "We could have stayed down and continued to get embarrassed, or we could have kept fighting. I thought we kept fighting.
"You hate to be on the losing end of anything, but at the end, I saw a group of guys starting to come together as a team. These kids aren't quitters. We made a game out of it at the end."
Morgan State 0 12 0 14-26
Bethune-Cookman 30 7 7 0-44
First quarter BC-FG Cortez 50, 10:10. BC-Russell 19 run (Cortez kick), 7:42. BC-Weems 38 run (Cortez kick), 6:11. BC-Russell 9 run (Cortez kick), 3:19. BC-Russell 20 run (kick failed), 1:43.
Second quarter BC-Summers 58 pass from Russell (Cortez kick), 14:36. MS-Dickens 12 pass from Selby (run failed), 2:09. MS-Selby 3 run (pass failed), 1:12.
Third quarter BCC-Russell 18 run (Cortez kick), 9:55.
Fourth quarter MS-Wilson 14 pass from Selby (Jackson run), 12:20. MS-Selby 5 run (run failed), 6:21.
First downs 19 17
Rushes-yards 31-106 50-313
Passing 223 84
Comp-Att-Int 20-46-2 4-14-1
Return Yards 33 68
Punts-Avg. 8-28 5-35
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 4-3
Penalties-Yards 6-44 17-142
Time of Possession 28:42 31:18 Rushing-Morgan State, Selby 16-73, Nelson 6-19, Jackson 9-14. Bethune-Cookman, Russell 13-128, Weems 12-113, Hampton 5-39, Wilson 4-19, Woodbury 1-8, Butler 3-5, Brannon 1-1, McCloud 9-0, Smith 2-0. Passing-Morgan State, Selby 20-46-2-223. Bethune-Cookman, Russell 3-11-1-83, McCloud 1-3-0-1. Receiving-Morgan State, Wilson 5-65, Dickens 5-59, Cash 4-37, Jackson 3-33, McKenzie 2-14, Spinner 1-15. Bethune-Cookman, Summers 2-70, Weems 2-14.