Morgan State didn't need long Saturday to come to the realization it was in for a long day against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference power Bethune-Cookman.
Sixteen seconds, to be exact.
That's how long it took for the Florida school to complete a 70-yard touchdown pass on its first play from scrimmage. It was only the beginning of a game to forget for the host Bears, who committed seven turnovers and allowed 640 yards of offense in a 69-32 loss.
"There wasn't an effort on either side of the ball — offensively or defensively," Morgan head coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "Anytime you turn the ball over seven, almost eight times, you can't beat a little league team like that. We have to do a better job of protecting the football, and we have to make some changes in some areas that we're making some crazy decisions."
Despite scoring its most points in two years — aided by 184 yards in penalties — Morgan (2-3, 1-1 MEAC) still has not won consecutive games since October of last season. It was the most points allowed by the Bears — who lost to Maryland, 62-3, last month — since allowing 77 to Maine in 2003.
Bethune-Cookman (4-0, 2-0) scored its most points on the road since 1950.
Bears quarterback Donovan Dickerson, under constant pressure, completed just eight of 25 passes for 74 yards, with three interceptions. He was replaced by red-shirt freshman Delonte Williams early in the third quarter, and has, at least for the time being, lost his starting job, Hill-Eley said.
"There's no question, it's time to see what some other guys can do," he said.
The Bears fell behind on the first offensive play of the game, when quarterback Matt Johnson found wide receiver Eddie Poole wide open — by no less than 10 yards — down the left sideline. Poole then outran Morgan's secondary for a 70-yard touchdown.
"Whenever you have a sudden change at the beginning of the game, that's huge," Morgan State defensive back Nico Scott said. "They got the momentum and they just rolled. You just have to communicate better. It had a huge impact."
Johnson completed his first eight passes and threw for 239 yards in he first half alone, despite sitting out for part of the second quarter. He finished 13 for 18 for 261 yards.
Morgan helped the Wildcats' cause with four first-half turnovers. About the only thing keeping the Bears in the game was Bethune-Cookman's 105 yards in first-half penalties.
Morgan's biggest highlight occurred when it already was down, 35-3, when Tyrone Hendrix broke off a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Later, near halftime, Scott returned an interception 44 yards to cut the deficit to 16, making a game of it.
Hopes of a miracle comeback, however, took a hit on the Bears' opening drive of the second half, when Bethune linebacker Ryan Lewis stripped Dickerson, then returned the fumble 33 yards for a touchdown.
"We just had too many turnovers to be in a game with anybody, really," Hill-Eley said.