GREENSBORO, N.C. - Morgan State's Andrew King caught a game-winning, 32-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone with 10 seconds remaining after quarterback Josh Council scrambled from trouble to give the Bears a 21-18 victory against North Carolina A&T on Thursday night.
The Bears drove 77 yards with no timeouts remaining, beginning the march with 1:43 to play in a dramatic Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opener for both teams at Aggie Stadium.
The winning drive appeared doomed after the Bears reached the Aggies' 14-yard line with more than 35 seconds to play. An intentional grounding penalty and a 10-second run-off appeared to thwart momentum before the winning play.
But on the next play, Council hit King, who got behind the N.C. A&T defenders in the end zone.
"I saw the defense coming and I tried to make something happen with my feet," Council said. "I just threw it up and he caught it. Our work pays off."
Morgan State's DeShaun Summers intercepted a desperation pass to end the game.
"What a finish," Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "That's the type of game you love to have. Guys kept fighting to the last play. It was amazing."
N.C. A&T's Mike Mayhew set a school record for career rushing yardage early in the second half, then scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but those weren't enough.
Morgan State held a 14-12 lead with 81/2 minutes remaining before N.C. A&T defensive tackle Chris Neal recovered a fumble at the Morgan State 23-yard line to set up Mayhew's seven-yard scoring run, which was his second touchdown in barely more than three minutes.
Trailing 18-14, the Bears (2-2) had two more chances. They converted a fourth-and-13 and eventually reached the N.C. A&T 14 before giving up the ball on downs with 3:27 left.
However, they took advantage of their next and final opportunity.
After losing by 60 points in its previous game at Akron, Morgan State accomplished one of Hill-Eley's pregame objectives by finding a way to "bleed slow," as he called it, for most of the game when things weren't going well.
The Bears had to punt nine times through three quarters, while N.C. A&T had six punts entering the fourth quarter.
"These young men, they find a way to keep fighting," Hill-Eley said. "They stick together."
Earlier, Morgan State tight end Kristian Johnson was on the receiving end of a 34-yard scoring pass from Council with 13:05 remaining as the Bears built a 14-6 edge.
The margin didn't last long because N.C. A&T (2-2) responded on Mayhew's 19-yard touchdown run at the 9:52 mark. A two-point conversion pass was caught out of bounds, leaving Morgan State with a 14-12 lead despite the Aggies' eight-play, 84-yard drive.
The Aggies' second touchdown was set up by Darren Bullock's 30-yard, third-down catch from Lewis Kindle.
Johnson did most of the work on Morgan State's second touchdown, dodging would-be tacklers for the final 30 yards of the play.
At that point, the Aggies raised their level, and it gave coach Rod Broadway an indication that he had been looking for.
"I think we'll have a lot more answers after this game," Broadway said earlier in the week.
Mayhew became N.C. A&T's all-time leading rusher with 1:20 left in the first half on a seven-yard run. That didn't last long because the senior lost six yards on his next carry.
Mayhew regained the record on the first play from scrimmage of the second half with a three-yard run. He passed Maurice Hicks, who gained 2,812 yards by the time his career ended in 2001.
Mayhew, who picked up 233 rushing yards in last year's victory against the Bears, shared time in the backfield with freshman Dominique Drake until Drake left with a third-quarter leg or ankle injury. Drake had 24 yards on six carries in the game.
Mayhew finished with 105 yards on 23 carries.
Morgan State went ahead 7-6 with 2:13 left in the first half on Travis Davidson's 45-yard run.
Davidson, a running back who leads the conference in rushing, had only eight yards on seven previous carries. He ended up with 69 yards on 19 carries Thursday.
N.C. A&T's D'Vonte Graham returned the ensuing kickoff to the Morgan State 36-yard line. That led to Zach Cimaglia's missed 39-yard field goal as the Aggies failed to regain the lead.
The Aggies scored first on Drake's 1-yard run with 6:42 left in the first quarter. The touchdown was set up on Kindle's 55-yard pass to Larry Raper.
Cimaglia, a freshman, missed the extra-point attempt wide left. It was his first misfire in 16 extra-point kicks
Morgan State threatened on the ensuing possession, moving inside the N.C. A&T 30-yard line before Neal's interception of a third-down screen pass.
Morgan State, playing the third game of a four-game stretch of road outings on the schedule, changed quarterbacks after two series when Council replaced Seth Higgins, who was 0-for-6.
Combined with coaching stops at North Carolina Central and Grambling State, Broadway-coached teams had been 39-6 in home games until this loss.
This was the first televised home game from Aggie Stadium in five years. N.C. A&T hasn't played well in front of the live cameras in recent years, losing its previous five TV games by an average of 36.5 points, then losing for a sixth straight time Thursday.
Fantasia, the 2004 American Idol winner who's from nearby High Point, sang the national anthem.