BALTIMORE, Md. – Coming off a rough season-opening road trip, the Morgan State Bears finally got a chance for some home cooking at newly renovated Hughes Stadium. But they couldn’t capitalize on early opportunities and fell 27-17 to North Carolina Central in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) opener on Saturday night.
“There are a few things that this team needs to work on,” said Morgan State head coach Tyrone Wheatley after the game. “I will name the top three. A – was penalties, B – was turnovers, and it kind of goes hand in hand, were third-down conversions and red zone scoring.”
The first possession for the Bears looked good until they drove deep into the red zone. NCCU tightened up and stopped the Bears on fourth and goal at the Eagles’ 1-yard line.
On the Bears’ next possession, Jabriel Johnson’s 56-yard run to end the first quarter set up a 21-yard field goal by Nicholas O’Shea to give Morgan State a 3-0 lead with 12:58 left in the second quarter.
NCCU (2-3, 1-0 MEAC) responded on their drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Latrell Collier. Adrian Olivo missed the extra point. But the Eagles went on top 6-3 with 10:16 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles added more later in the second quarter when NCCU quarterback Davius Richard ran the ball into the end zone from 62 yards out. With an extra point from Adrian Olivo, the Eagles extended its advantage to 13-3 with 1:21 left in the second quarter.
Morgan State (0-4, 0-1 MEAC) got back into it with a huge boost from the defensive side of the ball. Devan Hebron forced a fumble and Malachi Washington recovered the ball and rumbled 35 yards for the touchdown with 13:33 left in the third quarter. Morgan clawed to within three at 13-10.
“If you play hard and fly to the ball, good things happen,” Wheatley said about the play. “The good thing happened and it has to continue.”
However, Richard struck again for NCCU when their nine-play, 54-yard drive ended with his seven-yard touchdown sprint with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter. That was Richard’s second rushing touchdown of the night. Olivo’s extra point helped give the Eagles a 20-10 lead.
Collier struck again for NCCU. This time, he ran the ball 43 yards for a touchdown with 11:59 left in the game. That was Collier’s second touchdown run of the night. With Olivo’s extra point, the Eagles advantage expands to 27-10.
Morgan then turned to DJ Golatt Jr. at quarterback. It paid off quickly as he threw an 18-yard TD pass to Manasseh Bailey with 9:11 left in regulation to help push the Bears within 27-17.
Golatt Jr.’s pass was picked off by Bryan Mills at the Morgan State 46-yard line with three minutes left. It was Mills’ third interception of the game. That turnover shut the door on Morgan State’s comeback attempt.
Coach Wheatley emphasized some important things the players need to improve on during the post-game. The most important thing he said was that “The players have to execute. I’m not saying this as a coach. I’m saying this as a former player that has been in these positions. At the end of the day, players have to execute.”
Courtesy: MSU Athletics