Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley has challenged his team with the motto "Fact or Fiction," believing the time has come for the Bears to make their presence felt.
In a penalty-marred opener last night at Hughes Stadium, his players' response was mostly factual.
Savannah State offered little opposition as Morgan State rolled to a 47-7 victory, its fifth straight in the series.
Morgan State has outscored the Tigers 185-53, including 147-47 in the past three meetings.
Fresh Bears jerseys were all over the field in the fourth quarter when backup kicker James Meade made a 28-yard field goal for the game's final points.
Senior running back Chad Simpson paced the Bears' attack with 142 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns in a game that included 284 penalty yards, 149 against Morgan State.
"We had too many penalties, a lot of mistakes just timing-wise," Hill-Eley said. "We've got to clean that up. This is a game we should have won; we were just trying to play against ourselves."
Savannah State finally scored with 8:37 left in the game when JaCorey Kilcrease hit Isaiah Osborne on a 45-yard touchdown pass.
Morgan State dominated the first half against the Tigers, who were 2-9 last season and have 30 freshmen as opposed to seven seniors on a 70-man roster.
Both of Savannah State's first downs resulted from penalties against the Bears, who accumulated 97 yards in infractions in the first half.
The Bears had a 7-0 lead through the opening period, scoring on their second possession of the game after a 36-yard drive. All-MEAC preseason first-team pick Simpson ran the final 8 yards off tackle and John Skeete kicked the extra point less than six minutes into the game.
On the ensuing drive, Savannah State marched into Morgan State territory for the only time during the half, thanks to face-mask and offside penalties against the Bears. But on third down at the Bears' 32, Kendell Jackson intercepted Greg McCrary.
By halftime, the Morgan State defense had held the Tigers to 15 yards on 23 plays.
Any doubt about the outcome faded in the second quarter.
Skeete made a 37-yard field goal to increase the lead to 10 points. On the next possession Bears linebacker Bryan Wilson picked off a pass by Kilcrease and ran it back 23 yards to the end zone to make it 17-0.
After a Tigers punt, the Bears overcame a 15-yard taunting penalty when Simpson ran 31 yards on the first play from scrimmage and Savannah State was penalized 15 more for a personal foul at the end of the play.
That moved Morgan State to the Savannah State 33. Passes from Mario Melton to Edwin Baptiste accounted for most of the remaining yardage before running back Courtney Anderson ran 1 yard for the touchdown.
Skeete missed the extra point, leaving the Bears ahead 23-0.
Another Tigers possession ended in a punt and the Bears went 54 yards to the end zone, scoring on a 9-yard pass from Melton to Roderick Wolfe.
Melton finished 10-for-17 for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Simpson said starting with Savannah State "is a little pickup game that will help us up. But I really wanted Towson. Ever since last year [30-2 loss], I've been waiting for that one."
He'll get his chance next week when the two rivals meet again.
Savannah State 0 0 0 7 -7
Morgan State 7 23 7 10 -47
First quarter MS-Simpson 8 run (Skeete kick), 9:06
Second quarter MS-FG 37 Skeete, 8:56 MS-Wilson 23 interception return (Skeete kick), 8:42 MS-Anderson 1 run (kick failed), 4:42 MS-Wolfe 9 pass from Melton (Skeete kick), :13
Third quarter MS-Simpson 10 run (Skeete kick), 11:55
Fourth quarter MS-Simpson 10 run (Skeete kick), 14:55 SS-Osborne 45 pass from Kilcrease, 8:37 MS-FG 28 Meade, 2:46 Att.-952.
First downs 8 18
Total Net Yards 140 345
Rushes-yards 32-29 41-233
Passing 111 112
Punt Returns 2-19 5-83
Kickoff Returns 9-116 2-48
Interceptions Ret. 1-1 3-56
Comp-Att-Int 9-23-3 10-18-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0 0-0
Punts 7-39.6 5-41.8
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 10-135 13-149
Time of Possession 31:21 28:39
Rushing-Savannah State, Beard 6-18, Edwards 9-13, May 8-8, Kilcrease 6-7, McCrary 1-3, Team 1-(-1), Johnson 1-(-19). Morgan State, Simpson 27-142, James 10-66, Melton 2-25, Anderson 1-1. Passing-Savannah State, Kilcrease 9-19-1-111, McCrary 0-40-2-0. Morgan State, Melton 10-17-0-112, Selby 0-1-1-0. Receiving-Savannah State, Osborne 3-60, Hollinger 2-29, Rhines 1-12, Edwards 1-8, Denson 1-6, Beard 1-(-4). Morgan State, Baptiste 5-70, Wolfe 5-42.