BALTIMORE, Md. — The Morgan State Bears stunned North Carolina A&T Aggies, No. 14 in the STATS FCS Top 25, Saturday afternoon by defeating them 22-16 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference matchup. The loss put the Aggies (6-3, 4-2) in a three-team cluster with Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State atop the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Florida A&M is unbeaten in league play but ineligible for the title.
For the second season in a row, the Morgan State Bears (2-8, 2-5 MEAC) ended North Carolina A&T’s winning streak.
Last season, the two teams faced-off at BB & T Stadium in Greensboro (N.C.) where the Bears ended the Aggies 15-game winning streak and 11-game home winning streak. Their first loss in 665 days. The Bears ended a three-game losing streak defeating the Aggies 16-13 after Alex Raya converted a 36-yard field goal as time ran out.
Flash forward to today, the Bears ended North Carolina A&T’s two-game winning streak.
Morgan State’s defense bent didn’t break and held the Aggies, who averages 34.5 points per game, to a single touchdown. The Bears also collected eight tackles for loss, five QB hurries, two sacks and a pair of interceptions.
Head coach Tyrone Wheatley said the game could have been put out of reach sooner if the Bears defense did not let the Aggies convert six crucial third downs.
“If we get those third downs back, I think the game is put a little bit more out of reach,” Wheatley said.
The Aggies converted eight of 17 third downs, in addition to converting on two of three fourth downs attempts.
Before the Aggies final drive, Kylil Carter led the offense on an 11 play, 31-yard scoring drive which resulted in a field goal by kicker Noel Ruiz.
Derrick Williams recovered the ensuing onside kick for the Aggies with a 1:53 left. However, quarterback Carter (15-38, 154 yards, TD, 2 INTs) failed to complete any passes on their final drive of the game.
Senior Malachi Washington forced two incomplete passes on first and fourth down, and senior linebacker Rico Kennedy also sacked Carter for a loss of seven yards on a crucial third down for the Aggies.
Kennedy finished with five tackles and had a 55-yard interception return that led to a two-yard touchdown run by senior running back Josh Chase.
The Bears held the A&T’s Jah-Maine Martin, the MEAC’s leading rusher (126.8 avg/g), to 87 yards.
“We knew they had a really good running back in Jah-Maine Martin so our first order of business was holding him and make sure he didn’t get any big runs on us,” said Ian McBorrough.
McBorrough led the Bears with a game-high 12 tackles to go along with 2.5 tackles for loss.
Senior quarterback DeAndre Harris, unlike previous games, was the only quarterback to see the field Saturday for the Bears.
“I think we just came out and we didn’t kill ourselves this week,” Wheatley said. “In the weeks prior to, we just came out and we were charity and we gave people gifts. This week — we were stingy and we were just able to capitalize on some gifts that the defense gave us and we didn’t turn the ball over.”
The Bears only had one turnover for the day by Harris who was encouraged by coaches to continue throwing the ball and success will come.
“I just kept playing with confidence, and it came,” Harris said.
Harris threw for 218 yards completing 14-20 pass attempts. He added 58 yards rushing and scored on a rushing touchdown after a roughing the kicker penalty on the Aggies gave the Bears a first down on the Aggies one-yard line.
Manasseh Bailey was Harris’ main target. The senior wideout caught a touchdown pass and had 118 yards, moving him into a fifth-place tie on Morgan State’s career receiving list 1,802 yards.
“The offense just came together,” Bailey said. “We just came outside and had to execute. [DeAndre] was throwing dimes. I give it all to my quarterback and the O-line was protecting very well.”
Wheatley said the win was important, but it’s more important for the team to become consistent.
“The biggest thing that we got to do is we got to continue to build upon it and not lose what we started so far,” said Wheatley.
The Bears’ next opponent is the Virginia University of Lynchburg Dragons on Saturday (Nov. 16) at 1 p.m. at Hughes Stadium.
Courtesy: MSU Athletics