Say this for the Morgan State Bears; it may not have been pretty, but it sure was exciting.
The Bears (1-2, 1-0) got a touchdown with 34.8 seconds remaining by sophomore Eric Harrell, the first of his college career, to defeat visiting Howard (0-4, 0-2), 28-24, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Hughes Stadium on Saturday night.
The Bears were led by Lamont Brown III's 62 rushing yards and Ladarious Spearman's 71 receiving yards. Quarterback Chris Andrews finished 7-for-18 for 178 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. It was the first time a Morgan quarterback had thrown for three touchdowns in a game since 2014.
But the Bears defense did give up 392 yards to the Bison.
"It was an exciting way to get [my first win] this way," Morgan interim head coach Fred T. Farrier said. "It's been a tough few weeks around here, both on campus and in the Baltimore area, and we needed something positive like this to lift the spirits around here. To beat a rival like Howard like that is kind of special."
The Bears wasted little time getting on the board. On only their fourth play from scrimmage, Andrews found tight end Willie Gillus open in the middle of the field at about the 20-yard line. Gillus caught the pass in stride, and beat a defender to the end zone for a 6-0 lead just 41 seconds into the game.
Howard retaliated on its second possession. The Bison took over at their 30 after a missed field-goal attempt by Morgan's Alex Raya, and took the lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by William Parker to cap a nine-play drive with 5:44 left in the first quarter.
Morgan again responded quickly, needing just five plays before a touchdown by Spearman regained the lead. Spearman was open in the middle of the field and, after bobbling the pass, caught it and ran the remaining 30 yards for a 51-yard score with 3:51 left in the first quarter to make it 14-7.
Morgan increased the lead two possessions later. After a Howard fumble was recovered by Morgan's Jai Franklin at the Bison 32-yard line, Andrews wasted no time. He found wide receiver Ricky Fisk in the corner of the end zone, and Fisk made the catch for a 21-7 lead with 42 seconds left in the first quarter.
Howard closed the first-half scoring with a 34-yard field goal by Jordan Griggs, and Morgan took a 21-10 lead into the half.
The Bison narrowed the margin to 21-18 just six minutes into the third quarter. After a nine-play, 33-yard drive, Da'Vaun Johnson ran the ball in from the 1, and Howard cut the lead to just a field goal after a successful two-point conversion pass with 9:29 left in the quarter.
Howard tied the game after a long drive midway through the fourth quarter when Griggs added his second field goal with 8:14 left.
Morgan got the ball back at its 47 after a return by Orlando Johnson, but Andrews was intercepted on the first play from scrimmage by Howard's David Lee at the Bison 37-yard line. After another nine-play drive, Griggs gave Howard the lead with a 45-yard field goal with 4 minutes remaining.
The Bears got the ball on their 31, and began their best drive of the night. Morgan used a run by Andrews at his own 33 to convert a fourth-and-8 and keep the drive alive.
"I kept looking downfield, and they had dropped everybody into coverage," said Andrews. "I used my feet and took off, and it was just enough."
Ten plays later sophomore Eric Harrell scored his first touchdown from 4 yards out with 34.8 seconds left to give the Bears a 28-24 lead.
"When he called my number, I was ready," Harrell said. "I just did what they taught me in practice. I was patient untilthe hole opened up, and I took advantage when it did."
The game went down to the last play, when a pass by Howard quarterback Kalen Johnson was knocked down in front of the Morgan end zone.