The final score of Saturday's 48-28 loss to Villanova would seem to indicate that Morgan State was fare from capable of pulling off an upset against the No. 4 team in the Football Championship Subdivision.
But the score was tied at 21-21 at halftime before the Wildcats (7-1) scored four touchdowns in an 8-minute, 29-second span of the third quarter. That effort has inspired the Bears (4-4 overall and 3-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) as they prepare to visit league rival Hampton (2-6, 1-3) this Saturday.
"Our guys got some confidence," coach Lee Hull said Tuesday during his weekly conference call arranged by the MEAC. "They know that they could have easily won that game if they didn't have that 8½-minute lapse. So they're confident. They're very confident right now and their spirits are high still. So I think it gives us a little bit of confidence that we can play with anybody."
Diving back into the MEAC portion of its schedule, Morgan State has four games remaining. After Hampton, North Carolina A&T (7-2, 4-1), South Carolina State (5-3, 3-1) and Delaware State (2-7, 2-3) loom as obstacles for the conference title.
The Bears may also need some help in the form of upsets, but Hull said the players and coaches are concentrating on the task at hand, which begins with the Pirates.
"They know they have a chance to win the league, and they're taking it one game at a time," Hull said. "It's just like a game. We've got four quarters, and the first quarter is versus Hampton. That's all we're focused on, trying to win the first one and get off to a fast start."
Hampton has lost three of its past four games, but Hull pointed out that the Pirates shut out Delaware State, 23-0, this past Saturday to earn the program's first MEAC victory.
Hampton coach Connell Maynor said his group is just as confident as Morgan State is.
"It just gives us confidence," Maynor said Tuesday. "We've been in games all year long, and we're just happy to finally get one to go our way and finish the thing. We were leading at halftime in this game, and we were leading at halftime in three of the last four games. So we wanted to be able to finish and do what we did in the first half and continue to play that way in the second half."