It’s been a trying few weeks at Morgan State University. After a shooting rocked the campus and community of the Baltimore school back in the beginning of this month. Football was pushed to the back burner and last week’s scheduled game between the Bears and Stony Brook was, expectedly, called off.
Thursday night was the team’s first on-field action since the tragic events of October 2 and, at least for a little while, the Bears gave their fans and community something to take their minds off the real world.
Morgan State’s opening drive resulted in what would be the only points of the entire first half. Dominique Anthony led a 14-play drive that lasted for nearly six minutes. It looked as though the Bears were primed to score a touchdown but the offense went cold at the NC Central 15-yard line. Beckett Leary drilled a 32-yard field goal to give MSU a 3-0 lead.
With the lead in hand, the Morgan State defense rose up and forced four first half punts. Davius Richard and the high-octane Eagles couldn’t find any footing. Through the first 30 minutes of play, Richard threw for just 28 yards while running back Latrell Collier managed nine yards on four carries.
For all the Bears defense was doing well, though, their offense couldn’t provide much support. While North Carolina Central punted four times, MSU also had to boot the ball away an equal amount. Leary missed a 47-yard field goal try with a minute remaining in the first half and when the break came around it was still 3-0.
Coming out of halftime, the Eagles were finally able to get on the board. Richard and Collier found life and got kicker Adrian Olivo into field goal range. His 37-yard kick served as the equalizer.
The momentum swayed further in the favor of NCCU shortly after when Jason Chambers picked off Anthony midway through the third quarter. Richard and company again strung together a productive drive and, on the second play of the fourth, the Eagles nabbed their first lead of the night when Tynez Warner caught a two-yard touchdown.
With under 11 minutes to play, Chambers made another big play when Morgan State running back Kwincy Hall coughed up the ball after a first down run near midfield. Hall’s fumble was promptly jumped on by the sophomore DB. Just like that, the Eagles were in business again.
With their backs against the wall deep in their own territory, the Bears defense tightened up and forced a field goal. Olivo sent it through and NC Central extended their lead to 13-3 but with 6:58 left, Morgan State needed two scores.
The ensuing MSU series, however, petered out when Anthony floated a pass incomplete on 4th and 2 all but sealing the win for North Carolina. The Bears did manage a late touchdown when Anthony connected with Joseph Owumi for a deep strike over the middle but it was too little too late. The Eagles hung on for the 16-10 victory.
The Eagles defense played one of their best games of the season with Chambers being responsible for both of Morgan State’s turnovers and in total the Bears were only able to rush for 107 yards. Richard completed 16 passes for 122 yards and a score. Collier toted the ball 16 times for 43 yards.
NC Central has now won 11 straight games over FCS opponents dating back to last season and is now 6-1 on the year. They are also 1-0 in MEAC play and take an official lead in the conference standings. Morgan State, meanwhile, dips to 1-5 losing their fourth one-score game of the season.
The Bears will look ahead to a road matchup with Norfolk State on October 28. NCCU will be back on ESPNU next Thursday night when they take on South Carolina State.