The Bears (0-0, 0-0) will host Sacred Heart in the season opener on Saturday (Sept. 1) at Hughes Stadium. The Pioneers enter the 2012 season under the leadership of interim head coach Mark Nofri. The Pioneers completed the 2011 season with a 5-6 overall record and a 3-6 mark in the Northeast Conference. Morgan State posted a 5-6 record last season and was 4-4 in MEAC play. Donald Hill-Eley, ranked third among winning coaches at MSU, enters his second decade as head coach of the Bears. Game time at Hughes Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.
THE BEARS-PIONEERS MATCHUP
• The Bears and Pioneers will meet for the first time in history.
• The Bears have lost three of their last four season openers, including five of its last seven.
• MSU is 4-6 under head coach Donald Hill-Eley in season-openers.
• The Bears last season opener victory was during a 14-7 win against Bowie State on Sept. 4, 2010 at Hughes Stadium.
• Morgan State will enter the 2012 season with plenty of veterans … the Bears’ roster includes 22 seniors.
• Seth Higgins returns as the Bears starting QB … He completed 97-of-186 passes for 1,116 yards, including 9 TDs as a true freshman.
• Morgan State returns three of its top rushers from last season: Travis Davidson (792 yards), Tracy Martin (317 yards) and Brian Mann (101 yards).
• Travis Davidson had a 49-yard rushing touchdown and led the Bears with 74 yards on seven carries against Norfolk State.
• MSU wideout Tyrone Hendrix collected a season-high 371 yards on 19 catches, including three touchdowns in 2011.
• Kenneth Ridley emerged as a shutdown cornerback last season and ranked T-No. 2 in the MEAC with four interceptions.
• LB Allen Stephens posted a team-high 80 tackles to go along with 7.5 tackles for loss and an interception.
• DE Richard Ndubueze was selected to the 2012 Preseason All-MEAC First Team.
SACRED HEART THUMBNAILS
• The Pioneers finished the 2011 season with a 5-6 overall record and went 3-5 in the Northeastern Conference.
• The Pioneers played with a lot of question marks at the quarterback position last season, but will enter the 2012 season with Tim Little as the unquestionable starter. Little (6-4, 215, Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) threw for 2,200 yards while completing 57.9% (206-356) of his passes. Little helped lead the NEC’s top-passing offense (237.8 ypg).
• Sacred Heart has led the NEC in throwing the ball for the last three-straight seasons.
• Defensively, the Pioneers are led by Niko Sierra. Sierra is a two-year starter at outside linebacker and finished with 57 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and led the Pioneers with four interceptions, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a sack last season.
TASTY SHIRT GIVEAWAY
One of our favorite local streetwear brands, UNIVERSITY OF TASTE, has stepped up to the plate to partner with us to help start the 2012 Morgan State football season off right. On this Saturday’s football season-opener against Sacred Heart, we’ll be giving away brand spankin’ new t-shirts to the first 200, courtesy of UNIVERSITY OF TASTE.
After Saturday’s contest the Bears’ next three games will be on the road. MSU will travel to face Buffalo on Saturday, Sept. 8th, followed by road matchups at Akron (Sept. 15) and North Carolina A&T (Sept. 27).