In one of the most controversial endings ever at Hughes Stadium, Morgan quarterback Carlton Jackson was ruled short of a first down on a fourth-and-inches plunge in overtime and Florida A&M; survived to win a 31-28 decision over the stunned Bears.
On the play, which occurred at the Florida A&M; 16-yard line, the officials ruled that Jackson had been stopped short by Cameron Houston after Morgan coach Donald Hill-Eley passed up a field-goal attempt that could have tied the score.
With the victory, the Rattlers (6-2, 4-1) assumed sole possession of second place behind South Carolina State in the MEAC while Morgan (5-3, 3-2) dropped to third.
It was the second consecutive setback for the Bears.
Hill-Eley said he went for the yardage because "the kids asked for it. We actually thought we got the first down. We only needed 6 inches, and [Jackson] fell across the 15. He didn't fall back; he was going forward.
"[The call] was unbelievable," Hill-Eley said. "You hate to try to explain that to 19- and 20-year-olds."
Morgan never led in a topsy-turvy contest after one of the league's top offenses struck its defense for two quick touchdowns to start the game. But the Bears kept battling back and eventually had a chance to pull it out after Florida A&M; settled for a 35-yard field goal by Trevor Scott on its overtime possession.
When the Bears took the ball, Jackson was sacked for a 9-yard loss by LeRoy Vann.
But a 15-yard completion to Terrell White and Jackson's 3-yard gain carried the ball to the Rattlers' 16 and set up the strange ending.
Hill-Eley said he never considered the field-goal attempt to force a second overtime because "we were down by three and at home and we only needed inches."
He applauded his team for consistently fighting back against the offensive assault of Florida A&M; quarterback Curtis Pulley, who rushed for 231 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 174 yards and another touchdown.
"We're always going to battle," Hill-Eley said. "We did what we had to do. Jackson played well (16-for-22, 207 yards, two touchdowns) and moved us down the field."
The Bears forced the overtime with a 90-yard scoring march climaxed by Jackson's 53-yard connection with Edwin Baptiste, who had raced behind the Rattlers' secondary after the defense staged an all-out blitz.
Neither team was able to score in its final two possessions of regulation, with Florida A&M; surrendering the ball on a fumble by Pulley after he had raced 40 yards to the Morgan 38.
Three punts - and some questionable penalties - followed.
The outcome gave Rattlers coach Joe Taylor, who was Hill-Eley's mentor at Hampton - a 6-2 record against his former pupil and ended a two-game Morgan winning streak in the series.
The game featured a total of 888 yards of combined offense and eight plays that gained at least 10 yards.
But in the end, it came down to a matter of an inch or 2, and the Bears lost to the measuring stick.
14 0 7 7 3-31
7 7 7 7 0-28
Fam-Elliott 16 pass from Pulley (T.Scott kick), 13:10.
Fam-Sylvester 19 run (T.Scott kick), 6:43.
Morg-Morton-Green 27 pass from Jackson (Scarlett kick), 2:18.
Morg-D.West 2 run (Scarlett kick), 14:03.
Fam-Pulley 6 run (T.Scott kick), 10:12.
Morg-Jackson 1 run (Scarlett kick), 1:29.
Fam-Pulley 36 run (T.Scott kick), 14:14.
Morg-Baptiste 53 pass from Jackson (Scarlett kick), 8:33.
Fam-FG T.Scott 35.
First downs 18 19
Rushes-Yards 35-272 48-235
Passing 174 207
Cmp.-Att.-Int. 13-24-2 16-23-0
Return Yards 47 26
Punts-Avg. 2-33.5 4-43.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yds. 6-45 13-98
Time of poss. 24:49 50:11
Rushing-Florida A&M;, Pulley 20-231, Sylvester 9-22, Vann 3-16, Henry 3-3. Morgan St., James 20-133, D.West 9-55, Jackson 14-27, Dickerson 5-20.
Passing-Florida A&M;, Pulley 13-22-1-174, Elliott 0-1-0-0, Q.Hall 0-1-1-0. Morgan St., Jackson 16-22-0-207, Dickerson 0-1-0-0.
Receiving-Florida A&M;, Elliott 7-81, West 3-30, Sylvester 1-49, Purcell 1-14, Funderburk 1-0. Morgan St., Morton-Green 4-62, Diggs 4-18, Baptiste 2-60, Cherenfant 2-27, T.White 2-18, Burley 1-15, Bryant 1-7.
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