WASHINGTON - When it came to ending a seven-game losing streak against Morgan State, Howard was prepared to pull out all the stops.
And so, when faced with a fourth-and-four from midfield in the third quarter of a 7-7 tie with the Bears, Bison coach Gary Harrell didn't hesitate to dig into his bag of tricks.
Howard punter John Fleck lofted a pass to a wide-open Jordan Monette for a 16-yard gain to keep the drive alive and the Bison would make it count eight plays later when quarterback Greg McGhee scored on a one-yard run to make it 14-7, the turning point in a 21-20 victory on Saturday.
"We knew that we had an opportunity," Howard coach Gary Harrell said. "It's something that we practiced all week. The punter had to see it and just deliver the throw and it worked in our favor."
The Bison (5-2, 4-1 in the MEAC) blocked a field goal and a punt, in addition to executing the fake punt, to give its sputtering offense short fields, and took advantage of a kicking snafu by Morgan State in the final minutes to beat the Bears for the first time since 2004.
"It does a lot for the program," Harrell said. "It tells you you're going in the right direction. Seven years, that's a long time. At some point, it has to come to a stop and we made up our mind today that we were going to do something about it."
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.
"You're talking about 17- and 18-year-olds with the highest moment in their life and (it's) now I gotta snap this ball and now I gotta hold it," Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley said.
"It may seem simple, but when you've got guys down there that are young ... you want them to be ice-cold in their veins, but we'll take it and we'll learn from it."
Travis Davidson finished with 104 yards on 27 carries for the Bears, who had 143 yards rushing, 30 below their season average.
"My line really did a good job blocking and that helped me out," Davidson said. "I don't know. ... I don't have anything to say."
On the other hand, the Bison controlled the game with their rushing attack, piling up 259 yards on the ground to overcome spotty passing performances from their two quarterbacks.
"We feed off momentum, so when we get in the red zone, we have to score," said Terrence Leffall of Howard, who finished with 134 yards and a four-yard scoring run in the third quarter to make the score 21-7. "We know what we have to do."
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.
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 pass from Randy Liggins Jr. into 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.