Disappointment could be seen on Morgan State quarterback Moses Skillon's face. The senior had just played his final college football game, a 17-10 loss to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival Norfolk State at Hughes Stadium.
Morgan State (4-6, 4-4 in the MEAC) had more total yards (307 to 277), more first downs (21 to 12), more passing yards (185 to 128), and a 12-minute edge in time of possession and still lost. The Bears' inability to convert touchdowns in the red zone cost them again.
"I left a couple of plays out there today," said Skillon, who finished 24-for-42 for 185 yards with one touchdown and one interception. "We just didn't execute, and I take responsibility for that. This will leave a bad taste in my mouth for a while."
While Skillon was hard on himself, some of his teammates didn't help him out much. On two red-zone series, his receivers dropped almost sure touchdown passes.
"We had our opportunities, and I think we dropped two touchdown passes. That really cost us," Bears coach Lee Hull said. "We just didn't execute on offense, and I think we left the defense on the field too long late in the game."
Norfolk State (4-7, 4-4) capitalized on a Skillon interception early in the second quarter to take the lead. After defensive back Harry Freeman returned the ball to the Morgan State 40-yard line, the Spartans drove to the Bears' 20. The drive was stopped there, however, and Norfolk State settled for a 37-yard field goal from Cameron Marouf to take a 3-0 lead with 11:03 remaining in the half.
The Bears put together an impressive drive to take the lead on the next series. Skillon hit Ladarious Spearman for a 14-yard pass to start the drive, and the Bears capped it with the quarterback connecting with Orlando Johnson for a 12-yard touchdown to take a 7-3 lead with 6:52 left in the half. The 10-play, 65-yard drive stood up for the rest of the half, giving the Bears the lead at the break.
The second half was another story for the Bears. On Norfolk State's first series of the second half, quarterback Greg Hankerson Jr. found DeAndre Sangster for a 42-yard completion to set The Spartans up at the Morgan State 23. Two plays later, Hankerson — who went 15-for-25 for 128 yards on the day — lofted a nice spiral to Isaac White in the back of the end zone to give the Spartans a 10-7 lead with 11:19 left in the quarter. The played ended an eight-play, 80-yard drive.
Morgan State tied the game at 10 early in the fourth quarter, using Chris Moeller's 31-yard field goal with 14:07 left in the game.
After the teams traded possessions, Norfolk State scored the game winner with 8:05 left. Facing a second-and-7 from his own 43, Hankerson called his own number. After breaking several tackles, he found a crease in the Bears defense, racing 57 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, giving the Spartans a 17-10 lead.
Morgan State had two drives to try to tie the game, but the Bears could get no closer than the Spartans' 27. The Bears' final possession ended with a fourth-down sack of Skillon at their own 34 with 34.6 seconds left.
"We were moving the ball up and down the field," Johnson said. "We just couldn't capitalize. It's a little frustrating because we were one of the best teams in the MEAC last year in the red zone. This shows us what we need to work on in spring ball and for next season."