WASHINGTON - Howard exerted its dominance on special teams to open up a second-half lead and then took advantage of a kicking snafu by Morgan State in a 21-20 victory on Saturday, ending a seven-game losing streak against the Bears.
The Bison (5-2l, 4-1 in the MEAC) blocked a field goal and a punt, and converted a fake punt to give its sputtering offense short fields. They converted with short touchdown runs by quarterback Greg McGhee and running back Terrence Leffall to beat the Bears for the first time since 2004.
But it wasn't easy.
Morgan State (3-4, 2-2) closed the gap to 21-14 with 11:09 remaining on Travis Davidson's five-yard touchdown run, and stunned the crowd when Robert Council weaved his way for a 35-yard scoring run to make it 21-20 with 2:29 left.
However, the snap on the ensuing extra point was high, and kicker Ervin Gonzalez's desperation pass was intercepted by Tabrian Resby. Howard recovered the onside kick and ran the clock out.
The biggest play in the second half came with the Bison facing a fourth-and-four from the 50-yard line. Howard punter Jeff Fleck lofted a pass to Jordan Monette to keep the drive alive and McGhee capitalized with his short touchdown run to make it 14-7.
Morgan State opened the game with a methodical scoring march, going 72 yards in 12 plays, converting three third downs and finishing it off when Davidson took it in from six yards out to give the Bears a 7-0 advantage.
Both teams struggled offensively for most of the half. Morgan State quarterback Seth Higgins was erratic, making life difficult for his receivers with several poor throws.
But a 16-yard punt by Fleck gave the Bears a golden opportunity to extend their lead. Howard's defense stiffened, however, and linebacker Devin Rollins stuffed Bears' running back Brian Mann on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard-1ine to keep it at 7-0.
The Bison came up with another big play midway through the second quarter, when Julien David blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt by Morgan State's Gonzalez, scooped it up and threw a lateral to Brandon Flanagan, who took the ball down to the 15.
But the drive petered out and Parker Munoz missed a 36-yard field goal.
Howard finally got on the scoreboard in the waning seconds of the first half, embarking on a nine-play drive with no timeouts remaining. On third-and-10 from the Morgan State 26, Flanagan helped keep the drive alive by batting a Randy Liggins Jr. pass up in the air to himself for a nine-yard gain.
With time running out on fourth-and-one, Howard had no choice but to go for the end zone, and Liggins connected with Jonathan Booker for the tying touchdown as time expired.
NOTES: Howard has nine blocked kicks this season, with at least one block in each of its first seven games. ... Travis Davidson went over 100 yards rushing for the eighth time in his career and moved past James Fields for No. 10 on the Bears' all-time rushing list. ... Bison coach Gary Harrell and offensive line coach Chenniss Berry both served as assistants under Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley.