Morgan faces Norfolk State in home opener Saturday

September 27, 2013 | WNST Staff

MSU (0-4, 0-0 MEAC) vs. Norfolk State (0-3, 0-0 MEAC)
Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 – 1 p.m. ET
Hughes Stadium (10,000)
Baltimore, Md.

GAME TIME
The Bears (0-4) will open Mid-Eastern Conference play against Norfolk State on Saturday (Sept. 28) in Baltimore (Md.) for Morgan State’s home opener. The Bears have opened the 2013 season with four straight nonconference road tests. The Spartans are led by head coach Pete Adrian, who is in his ninth season at the helm for the Spartans. NSU (0-3) will enter the contest coming off of a tough home loss against Chareston Southern, 20-12. Morgan State will look to rebound from a 58-17 road loss against FBS-member Western Kentucky. Donald Hill-Eley, ranked third among winning coaches at MSU, enters his 12th year as head coach of the Bears.  Game time at Hughes Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.

THE BEARS-SPARTANS MATCHUP 
• The Bears and Spartans will meet for the 26th time since 1965. Norfolk State leads the series 15-10 and has won the last six meetings against MSU since 2007.
• Last against the Spartans (Nov. 10, 2012) … Morgan State had five turnovers that led to Norfolk State’s 27-0 first half lead as the Spartans cruised to a 30-0 victory at Dick Price Stadium. Robert Council had a rough outing for the Bears as he completed just 4 of 12 passes 38 yards, and was picked off three times, including one that was returned 15 yards for a touchdown. Council was relieved by Seth Higgins who threw for 104 yards on 10 of 23 passing.
• The last time the Bears played the Spartans at Hughes Stadium was on Nov. 12, 2011 … Morgan State battled No. 22 Norfolk State throughout the first half, before one utterly forgettable stretch to open the second half. The Bears allowed 17 straight points in a span of 4 minutes, 26 seconds, turning a close game into a 47-14 rout.

ABOUT THE SPARTANS
• Norfolk State head coach Pete Adrian enters his ninth year guiding the Spartans and currently holds a 47-46 record (83-83 career record) and is the third-winningest coach in Spartan history. He guided the Spartans to the first MEAC football title and Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth in school history in 2011.
• Norfolk State finished the 2012 season with a 4-7 overall record and went 2-6 in the MEAC.
• NSU returns 39 lettermen, including 17 starters from last year’s team.
• NSU QB Omari Timmons was 10 of 17 for 95 yards and a touchdown against Charleston Southern. He was also sacked three times.
•  Ben Robinson and Christian Reyes combined for 194 yards rushing on 34 carries to lead Charleston Southern to a 20-12 nonconference victory over Norfolk State. Robinson’s 2-yard scoring run early in the second quarter gave Charleston Southern (4-0) the lead. The Spartans  came back to score on a 1-yard pass from Omari Timmons to Ryan Wade. The point after was blocked. The Charleston Southern defense added the clinching touchdown when Dyland Black caused Norfolk State’s Tyler Clark to fumble in the end zone. Black recovered the fumble for the score.
• NSU senior LB Lynden Trail is one of the leaders for the Spartans defense. Trail will enter this weekend’s contest fresh off posting 10 tackles , including one sack and two pass breakups against Charston Southern … he has 22 tackles (14 solo) with 1.5 sacks thru three games.
• NSU graduate student RB Rolandan Finch ranks as the No. 2 leading rusher in the MEAC with 234 yards on 50 carries (4.7 avg). The 5-10, 215 pound Boston College transfer finished the Charleston Southern contest with a game-high 108 rushing yards. Finch is still in search of his first touchdown in a Spartan jersey.
• The Bears’ offensive unit will face a Spartan defense that ranks among the top in the league. NSU ranks No. 3 in the MEAC in total defense (355.7/g), and No. 2 versus the pass (141.7/g).

QUICK HITS
• MSU will enter the 2013 season with a number of veterans … the Bears’ roster includes 12 seniors and 15 juniors.
• The Bears return its top receiver from last season in Andrew King … King, a Columbia (Md.) product, had 25 catches for 334 yards (13.4) and scored a pair of touchdowns as a true sophomore.
• The Bears backfield lost All-MEAC running back Travis “Juice” Davidson to graduation, however the backfield is loaded with talented young players like Lamont Brown III, Herb Walker Jr., Tracy Martin and Orlando Johnson who will compete for the starting RB spot.
• The returning quarterback duo of Seth Higgins and Robert Council combined for 1,560 passing yards (140-of-301) and five touchdowns in 2012.
•  Joe Rankin returns as a shutdown cornerback for the Bears and finished with 46 tackles and lead the MEAC with five picks in 2012.
•  NT Demarco Bisbee leads a defensive line unit that returns 10 lettermen from last season … Bisbee posted 41 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and
3.5 sacks in 2012.
•  LB Christopher Robinson was among the league leaders with 13.5 tackles for loss (No. 4), to go along with 40 tackles and 8.5 sacks.
•  Chris Flowers helped lead the Bears to a No. 1 ranking in the MEAC in kickoff return avearge (23.0 avg) and his 27.8 kick return average ranked No. 8 in the FCS last season.
•  The Bears added four new coaches to the 2013 staff … the new coaches are: Jerry Holmes (DC), Gordon Gregory (OC), LeAndre Creamer (DB) and Marcus Gladden(OL).

FINISHING TOUCHES … Morgan State has been pretty good this season when it comes to scoring in the red zone. Through the first four games, the Bears have scored 7-of-9 (78%) times inside its opponent’s 20 yardline. MSU ranks No. 7 in the MEAC in red zone scoring.

GETTING DEFENSIVE … The Morgan State defense has five players with at least 15 tackles so far this season.
• Junior linebacker Cody Acker leads the way with 41 stops (4th in MEAC), including a season-high 12 tackles at Liberty (Sept. 14).
• The next highest is senior Darien Irby who has posted 26 tackles from his starting strong safety position.

LAUNDRY SERVICE … Morgan State mistakes in the form of penalties have been troublesome for the Bears. MSU ranks No. 8 in the MEAC in penalties (32; 63.8 avg), but was flagged a season-low five times for 35 yards at Western Kentucky last Saturday.

HIGGINS STANDS TALL IN QB CAROUSEL … With Robert CouncilMoses Skillon and Ricky Fisk jockeying for additional playing time, Seth Higgins put together a solid outing last week at Western Kentucky. The junior completed 13 of his 21 passes for 126 yards and tossed two touchdowns. He also had 13 carries for 56 yards. Although he did throw a pair of interceptions, it was his best statistical performance since throwing for 153 yards in last season’s overtime win against Sacred Heart last year.

COLLECTING INTERCEPTIONS … The Bears have recorded five interceptions through four games. CB Joe Rankin has a pair of picks, while SS Peterson Javier, CBDeShaun Summers, and LB Bill Hill each have an interception to their credit. Morgan State’s defense currently ranks T-18 in the FCS in interceptions and No. 19 in pass defense (151.8 avg).

HIGGINS STANDS TALL IN QB CAROUSEL … With Robert CouncilMoses Skillon and Ricky Fisk jockeying for additional playing time, Seth Higgins put together a solid outing last week at Western Kentucky. The junior completed 13 of his 21 passes for 126 yards and tossed two touchdowns. He also had 13 carries for 56 yards. Although he did throw a pair of interceptions, it was his best statistical performance since throwing for 153 yards in last season’s overtime win against Sacred Heart last year.

INGRAM EARNS CFPA HONORS … Senior tight end Nate Ingram was honored by the College Football Performance Awards for his play last Saturday against BCS-member Western Kentucky. Ingram was named honorable mention tight end of the week after recording four catches for 60 yards. The Sicklerville (N.J.) was also on the receiving end of a 35-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Seth Higgins for the Morgan State’s first score of the game. It marked the second longest scoring play of the season for the Bears. Ingram, who has started at tight end in the first four games, is averaging 12.7 yards per reception and has six catches on the season.

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