Howard Drops Hard-Fought Battle to Norfolk State
Washington, DC—October 30---The Howard University football team battled Norfolk State for four quarters, but it came down to a case of too many key injuries on offense for the Bison as the Spartans, prevailed 10-9 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game before an overflow homecoming crowd of 7,086 at Greene Stadium.
Howard (1-7 overall, 0-5 in the MEAC) came into the game with injuries to six starters, including all-MEAC performer, junior wide receiver Wille Carter. Carter, who injured an ankle in the loss to North Carolina A&T last week, is the team's top playmaker and his absence definitely had an impact on the game.
And if that was not enough to affect the play of the offensive unit, the Bison were further hampered when leading rusher Charles Brice went down with a leg injury early and did not return. Brice is the team's leading rusher with 400 yards and three TDs).
"It is extremely difficult when you have this many injuries," said Howard Coach Carey Bailey. " It's tough to get anything going when your starters are not out there. There are some young players out there who are not used to being in these situations. Norfolk State has a great defense and it was frustrating that we could not get them out of their comfort zone."
With both teams' defenses controlling the game, the first quarter ended scoreless. So it was only fitting that defense would set up the game's first score. Howard's junior safety Lanny Kelly stepped in front of a Norfolk State receiver, picked off the pass and returned it 30 yards to the Spartans' 20-yard line. It took Howard six plays to go the distance, but junior slotback Brandon Drayton scored from a yard out to put Howard up, 7-0 at the 10:38 mark of the second quarter.
Norfolk State (3-5 overall, 2-4 in the MEAC) was able to tie the score at the half when it gained good field position at the Howard 41. It took the visitors seven plays to cash in with DeAngelo Branche (23 carries, 77 yards) bolted up the middle from 18 yards out with 4:38 remaining in the half.
The Spartans got another break on good field position just before the end of the third period and they capitalized when Ryan Estep booted a 31-yard field goal to give them their first lead at 10-7.
Both teams slugged it out the rest of the way with the defenses controlling the action. Needing a spark with time running out, the Bison's DeAngelo Moody blocked a Norfolk State punt attempt that went out of the end zone and resulted in a safety for the Bison, cutting the margin to 10-9 with 3:14 still left in the fourth quarter.
But the Spartans defense stopped the Bison and held on for the win.
"Our defense played well," said Coach Bailey. "We have some young players who are stepping for us."
NEXT UP: Norfolk State will host Morgan State next Saturday at 1 pm while the Bison travel to Orangeburg, SC to take on the Bulldogs of South Carolina State at 1:30 pm
GAME NOTES: Redshirt sophomore linebackers Keith Pough and Hurt Mangum, II each had outstanding games for the second straight week…Pough, who leads the nation in tackles for losses, picked up 15 solo tackles, 3 assists and 6 for losses, giving him 23 on the season…Mangum collected 8 solos, 7 assists and a tackle for a loss…freshman David Julien continues to show progress each week…he was credited with 4 tackles and a fumble recovery…Kelly, who had missed the past three games with an injury, had the interception and three pass defenses.