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In one football game, Morgan State defense doubled its turnover total for 2015

Entering Saturday's home game against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival Savannah State, Morgan State had created just four turnovers. By the end of Saturday's 42-3 blasting of the Tigers, the Bears had doubled that total.

Morgan State (3-2 overall and 3-0 in the league) had three interceptions, recovered one fumble and almost corralled another fumble in the third quarter. The fumble in the fourth period was returned 30 yards for a touchdown by redshirt freshman outside linebacker Brandon Griffin, the defense's first return for a score this season.

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Senior free safety Peterson Janvier said defensive coordinator Mike Fanoga has been working with the players to make it a priority to force turnovers and hand the ball back to the offense.

"The key was we started off the season with not too many turnovers," he said outside the team's locker room after the game. "So we've been working on that in practice. … We actually take the coaching from practice and use it on the field. We just seize every opportunity that we had. As a defensive person, you want to put every turnover into the end zone as much as possible, and that's what we're trying to do. We got a few and we missed a few, but at the end of the day, we're going to play together and the turnovers are going to come."

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The takeaways were critical because Savannah State had been driving before the errors. The first and third interceptions occurred with the Tigers in Bears' territory, and the second one developed with Savannah State at its 40-yard line.

"It changes momentum, it changes field position for us," coach Lee Hull said Tuesday. "Our defense is doing a great job of creating turnovers. Coach Fanoga has done a great job of bringing the confidence and excitement back into our defense, and those guys are playing at a high level right now."

Morgan State could increase its takeaways when Hampton visits Hughes Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Pirates are tied with Florida A&M for the most turnovers in the MEAC with 14 each.

As opportunistic as the defense was against Savannah State, Janvier said the unit can produce better results.

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"I think we're playing average," he said. "We missed a lot of plays. Savannah has an athlete as a quarterback, and we gave up a lot of plays. As a defense, we subscribe to trying to shut every team down, but I feel like we're playing good, but it's not great. There's always improvement to greatness."

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