Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley stood outside his team's locker room late Saturday afternoon wearing the look of a frustrated coach, and it was easy to understand why.
The Bears moved the ball well and often played good defense in their season finale, but a bunch of poorly timed mistakes helped Hampton escape, 27-17, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference matchup at Hughes Stadium.The game originally was scheduled to be played at Yankee Stadium but was shifted back to Baltimore after problems from Hurricane Sandy.
Morgan State ended the season with a six-game losing streak, its longest since 1996. The Bears finished 3-8 overall and 2-6 in the MEAC. They had 12 penalties for 130 yards in the game.
"It's been a whole year of mistakes coming at the wrong time," Hill-Eley said. "You have to find a way to address it and fix it. Today, at inopportune times, the guys got bad penalties and put them in great situations."
Morgan State helped the Pirates on their first two scoring drives. Hampton (3-7, 3-5) faced a second-and-25 from the Bears' 33, but Morgan State was called for a late hit. That gave the Pirates first-and-goal from the 9-yard line, and they scored three plays later to make it 7-0.
On the second Hampton drive, the Bears were flagged for two personal fouls and an offsides call that helped the Pirates take a 14-7 lead. Another time, Morgan State had Hampton pinned at its own 1-yard line, but then jumped offsides on the first play to give the Pirates some breathing room.
"A lot of mistakes [and] penalties; it was just a lot of things that went wrong today," Morgan State running back Travis Davidson said.
The Bears never led in this game. Hampton was up, 14-7, at halftime before Robert Council tied it with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Chris Flowers in the third quarter. The Pirates then scored 13 of the game's final 16 points.
The Bears were looking for anything to shake them out of their recent slump. Hill-Eley came down out of the press box to work on the sidelines for the first time in a year-and-a-half, but Morgan State still had problems.
The ill-timed penalties and miscues are a big reason the Bears lost those final six games. Five of the losses came by 11 points or less, and Morgan State wound up dropping those five games by a total of 31 points.
What made this game more frustrating is the Bears had plenty of chances on offense, and the defense often was effective. Hampton ran for 231 yards, but Pirates quarterbacks completed just 4 of 18 passes for 42 yards with three interceptions. One of those completions was Brian Swain's 15-yard touchdown pass to Javaris Brown in the first quarter.
Running backs Jeremiah Schwartz (113 yards, two touchdowns) and Chris Dukes (112 yards, one touchdown) often kept the Hampton offense moving. Aaron Mathews (39-yard punt return), Antwon Chisholm (47-yard kickoff) and Jorrian Washington (38-yard kickoff) all helped the Pirates start drives around midfield that eventually led to touchdowns.
"I think this was more of a team effort," Hampton coach Donovan Rose said. "Defense, offense, special teams; I'm proud of these guys. I thought Morgan did a great job. We just wanted it more."
Morgan State didn't have much difficulty moving the ball and finished with 312 yards of total offense. Davidson ran for 81 yards and finished with 932 this season. Council threw for 140 yards and the one touchdown, but the Bears just couldn't make the big play, especially deep in Hampton territory.
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"I know we can move the ball," Council said. "We can score. We can execute. We've [just] got to play consistent."