VILLANOVA, Pa. — Morgan State’s game against No. 4 Villanova was expected to be a measuring stick for the Bears program. And for the first 30 minutes, Lee Hull’s team was more than up for the task in front of Villanova’s Homecoming Weekend crowd of 7,821.
However, the second half proved to be the Bears’ undoing as the Wildcats exploded for 27 unanswered points coming out of halftime to pull away from the Bears 48-28.
“I’m very proud of our guys and how they played,” said MSU head coach Lee Hull. “They played toe-to-toe with them for a half. We came out in the second half a little flat in the third quarter. But one thing about this team is that they don’t quit and they kept fighting. I’m proud of that and we were able to stay in the game with a team like that.”
“I thought we played pretty well, but obviously we can’t have the turnovers and some of the mistakes that we had against this football team.”
It didn’t take long for Villanova to show off its potent offensive. In fact, it only took one snap from scrimmage before John Robertson raced 56-yards for the first score of the day.
Robertson, who ranks among the elite players in the NCAA FCS, completed 13-of-18 passes for 143 yards with three touchdown throws, and he ran for 99 yards on 11 carries and scored a pair of TDs.
For the entire first half, the Bears were more than game to trade scores with Villanova despite never taking a lead of their own. Morgan State took advantage of a pair of lost fumbles by the Wildcats and answered each of the first three Villanova touchdowns with scores of their own. Ricky Fisk scored on a three-yard run with 1:04 to play before halftime and the teams went into the locker rooms with the score tied at 21-21.
Redshirt-junior quarterback Moses Skillon started as the Bears signal-caller for the first time this season. In fact, his first career start came around the same time last year, when he started at Howard’s homecoming on Oct. 27th, 2013. Skillon completed 23-of-38 passes for 204 yards, including a 33-yard TD pass to Thomas Martin that tied the game at 7-7. Skillon also led the Bears ground attack with 77 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
Villanova retook the lead at 14-7 on Turrell’s touchdown with 3:38 to play in the opening period, while the Bears answered on Skillon’s three-yard run with 9:05 left in the second quarter. Robertson connected with Gulyas for a 22-yard touchdown with 5:32 remaining in the period and Fisk’s three-yard run tied the score for the third time just before the intermission.
Monangai put the Wildcats ahead to stay with his one-yard scoring run at the 11:07 mark of the third quarter. Robertson scored on a four-yard run with 7:53 to play in the third period and Livers caught a four-yard pass for a touchdown with 5:41 left in the quarter. Monangai’s 81-yard touchdown run three minutes later closed the scoring for Villanova, while Morgan State found the end zone one more time when Skillon scored from one yard out early in the fourth quarter.
Paul Eatman Jr. led the Bears with 12 tackles, Antonio Jefferson added 11 stops and the defense recorded four tackles for loss and a pair sacks.
Villanova ran 70 plays for 514 yards, while the Bears posted 313 yards on 65 plays.
“Going into it [the game], I wasn’t big on playing a non-conference game in the middle of our season,” explained Hull. “However, our guys have confidence now that they can play with anybody… obviously there’s some mistakes we have to cleanup. To be able to play with a team of this caliber helps our confidence.”
Lawrence Forbes had a punt blocked by Villanova lineman Pat Williams to help setup the Cats’ second score of the third quarter.
Entering the game, the Bears were one of just two FCS teams (along with Citadel) who had not thrown an interception all season long. That changed in a big way as the Wildcats defense picked off Skillon three times. Safety Matt McCann had an interception with 5:35 left in the first quarter and cornerback Jason Ceneus had a pair of picks in the second half.
Courtesy: Morgan State Athletics