The Morgan State football team isn't where it wants to be at this point in the season. However, Saturday might've marked a big step in that direction.
The Bears found themselves in the second half, scoring on two long drives and posting a 21-7 win over Florida A&M in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Hughes Stadium in Baltimore.
Wide receiver Andrew King led the Bears with six catches for a career-high 168 yards, with almost half of it coming on an 83-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Moses Skillon completed 16 of 30 passes for 327 yards to pace Morgan State (4-5 overall, 4-3 in the MEAC), which ended a three-game slide.
"We always start off slow, and we did again in the first half of this game," Skillon said. "We got it together in the second half and everyone came through. Our defense did a tremendous job."
The Morgan State defense held the Rattlers to 196 yards on the day, including only 60 yards rushing.
The Rattlers took the lead early in the second quarter, when receiver Brandon Norwood made a great catch on the sideline deep in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown from quarterback Kenneth Coleman. The play capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive in which Florida A&M (1-9, 1-6) benefited from a pass interference call deep in Bears territory.
Morgan State evened the game midway through the second quarter. After pinning the Rattlers deep in their own end, Morgan State took over at the Florida A&M 48-yard line.
The Bears used a 17-yard pass to Ricky Fisk from Skillon on the second play to move the ball to the 31. Six plays later, Orlando Johnson ran the ball just outside the hash mark from 8 yards out with exactly six minutes left in the half to tie the score at 7. The drive took eight plays, and lasted 4:16.
Morgan State missed a chance to take the lead with 37 seconds left in the half, when a Chris Moller 40-yard field goal sailed wide right.
Morgan State took the lead late in the third quarter. After taking over at their own 37, the Bears got a 24-yard pass from Skillon to Amonta Poteat to move the ball to the Rattlers' 10-yard line. Three plays later, Skillon called his own number, tumbling into the end zone from 3 yards out to run the score to 14-7, capping an eight play, 63-yard drive.
The Bears got their final touchdown in dramatic fashion early in the fourth quarter. After a Rattlers punt pinned Morgan State at its own 14-yard line, the Bears cashed in on a third-and-7. Skillon dropped back and avoided the rush, before finding King for a 6-yard pass. The senior receiver did the rest, juking a defender and rushing down the sideline before turning across the field and scoring on a spectacular 83-yard reception to make it 21-7.
"We noticed they were in man coverage, and he was under pressure. I just floated out and got open, and I made the play," King said. "I got some great blocking from my teammates on the play."
It looked like Skillon would score another touchdown in the final minute. The Bears had the ball at their own 41, and the quarterback dropped back to pass. After avoiding an apparent sack, Skillon took off down the sideline. It looked like he would score before being caught at the Florida A&M 4-yard line after a 55-yard run. The Bears ran the clock out after that.
"That was a reaction play," a smiling Skillon said. "I saw him coming and ducked under him, then I took it to the outside. I should have scored on that one."
The win was a relief for the Bears after three straight losses. The victory gives them a winning record in the conference with one game to play.
"We just have to keep getting better," Bears coach Lee Hull said. "We started 11 freshmen or sophomores in this game, and they are still learning how to play at the [Football Championship Subdivision] level. Some of them were wearing down both physically and mentally. All these guys came from a program where they were the man on their teams, and now they have to adjust to their roles."
The Bears close out the regular season with a 1 p.m. home game Saturday against Norfolk State.