When North Carolina Central closed out a 21-14 win over North Carolina A&T Saturday, the reverberations were felt 300 miles north in Baltimore.
When the Eagles won, that meant Morgan State had clinched a share of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship and earned the league's automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Minutes after the Bears routed Delaware State, 69-7, at Hughes Stadium Saturday, players and coaches rushed into the fieldhouse to watch the North Carolina Central-North Carolina A&T game and then, celebrate.
"It erupted knowing that we were at least co-champs," coach Lee Hull said. "We reached our goal. That was our No. 1 goal, to be MEAC champs. So the place erupted, and the players were going crazy."
Morgan State (7-5 overall, 6-2 in the conference) captured its first MEAC title in 35 years. More importantly, with the Aggies (9-3, 6-2) losing to the Eagles (7-5, 6-2), South Carolina State (8-4, 6-2) beating Norfolk State and Bethune-Cookman (9-3, 6-2) defeating Florida A&M, the Bears won the crucial tiebreaker to collect the automatic berth in the FCS postseason.
"It feels great," Hull said. "I'm very happy for our team and our community. It's been a long time since they had a MEAC championship and the first time ever going to the playoffs. I'm ecstatic, and I'm happy for the whole program and the university."
While not ruling out some surprise at guiding a team that had been picked to finish last in the conference to the league championship and the playoffs, Hull said getting here was the goal.
"When they hired me, they wanted to restore the greatness of the football program," he said. "They had a great legacy in the '60s, '70s and early '80s, and that's where they wanted to be. Our goal was to win the MEAC championship and return this program back to greatness. To get it in my first year, you always strive for that, but to get it in my first year is a great experience."
Hull said players and coaches will enjoy this accomplishment until Sunday at 3 p.m. when the team has its usual meeting.
"That's our normal routine," he said. "We're not going to vary from what we've been doing. That's our normal routine. So we're just going stay the course. That's what has gotten us here. So we're going to stay on schedule."
Moses Skillon threw five touchdown passes — three to Andrew King in the first half — and ran for one in the lopsided victory. Skillon completed 16 of 24 passes for 261 yards, and King finished with eight catches for 116 yards.
Herb Walker Jr. ran for 128 yards on 17 carries as the Bears held a 518-177 advantage in total yards.
The Hornets fell to 2-10 and 2-6.