MSU (0-5, 0-1 MEAC) vs. Florida A&M (1-3, 0-0 MEAC)
Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 – 1 p.m. ET
Hughes Stadium (10,000)
The Bears (0-5, 0-1) will host Mid-Eastern Conference opponent Florida A&M on Saturday (Oct. 5) in Baltimore (Md.). The game will mark Homecoming for Morgan State as the Bears will attempt to snap an 11-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 13, 2012. First-year head coach Earl Holmes leads the Rattlers. FAMU (1-3, 0-0) will enter the contest fresh off of a bye week. The last time the Rattlers were in action was on Sept. 21 in when they were pounded by the Ohio State Buckeyes 76-0 in Columbus. Morgan State will look to rebound from a 27-21 home loss against Norfolk State. 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-RATTLERS MATCHUP
• The Bears and Rattlers will meet for the 24th time since 1943. Florida A&M leads the series 19-4 and has won the last two meetings against MSU since 2009.
• Last time against the Rattlers (Oct. 30, 2010) … Morgan State rallied from 14 points down, and was driving for the go ahead score but the Bears made a costly mistake. With the ballgame knotted at 17-17, Delonte “Smoke” Williams had his pass intercepted by Jerrell Stewart who returned it 37 yards for a touchdown with 7:17 left in the game. Philip Sylvester added the dagger in the form of an 89-yard touchdown run. MSU sophomore running back David Brown posted a career-high 131 yards on 17 carries.
• The last time the Bears played the Rattlers at Hughes Stadium was on Oct. 31, 2009 … The Florida A&M Rattlers stopped Morgan State quarterback Carlton Jackson on fourth and inches at the 15 in overtime of a 31-28 victory at Hughes Stadium on Halloween evening. Florida A&M quarterback Curtis Pulley ran 20 times for 231 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
• The last time the Bears defeated Florida A&M at Hughes Stadium was on Oct. 27, 2007 … The Bears came away with a 14-12 victory against Florida A&M in front of a crowd of 3,478. The win marked Morgan State’s first against Florida A&M since 1994, snapping the Rattlers 11-game win streak against the Bears. Trailing 14-12 late in the 4th quarter, Florida A&M had a chance to take the lead on a 17-yard field goal attempt by Wesley Taylor. MSU head coach Donald Hill-Eley called for a timeout to “freeze” Taylor, and it apparently worked. Taylor’s field goal sailed wide right.
ABOUT THE RATTLERS
• Florida A&M head coach Earl Holmes enters his first year at the helm of the Florida A&M Rattlers. Holmes is one of Florida A&M’ greatest defensive players of all time served as the Rattlers’ defensive coordinator under legendary Joe Taylor, bringing with him a tremendous passion for the game along with his ties to the program. Known affectionately by family and FAMU fans as “The Hitman,” Holmes played for the Rattlers from 1992 to 1995, finishing as the school’s all-time leader in tackles.
• Florida A&M finished the 2012 season with a 4-7 overall record and went 4-4 in the MEAC.
• FAMU returns 39 lettermen, including 21 starters from last year’s team.
• FAMU QB Damien Fleming entered the season as 2013 Preseason All-MEAC First Team selection. The Jacksonville (Fla.) product has completed 41 of 80 passes for 413 yards with a pair of touchdowns … he has also thrown six interceptions.
• Fleming’s favorite target is wideout Lenworth Lennon. The junior has 14 receptions (No. 3 in the MEAC) for 229 yards (ranked No. 4) and a touchdown. He is currently averaging 16.4 yards per catch and 76.3 yards per game.
• FAMU LB Michael Ducre is one of the leaders for the Rattlers defense. Ducre enters this weekend’s contest with 34 tackles (24 solo) with 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks thru four games.
Omari Albert leads • The Rattlers ground attack. Albert has 32 carries for 104 yards (3.2 avg) and has a touchdown.
• The Bears’ offensive unit will face a Rattler pass defense that ranks among the top in the league. FAMU ranks No. 3 in the MEAC in pass defense (144.7/g).
• MSU will enter the 2013 season with a number of veterans … the Bears’ roster includes 12 seniors and 15 juniors.
• 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, 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 average (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), Greg 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 five games, the Bears have scored 10-of-13 (77%) times inside its opponent’s 20 yardline. MSU ranks No. 8 in the MEAC in red zone scoring.
GETTING DEFENSIVE … The Morgan State defense has four players with at least 20 tackles so far this season.
• Junior linebacker Cody Acker leads the way with 55 stops (3rd in MEAC), including a season-high 14 tackles last week against Norfolk State (Sept. 28).
• The next highest is senior Darien Irby who has posted 28 tackles from his starting strong safety position.
NO SACKS FOR YOU … Since allowing 6.0 sacks against Robert Morris, the Morgan State offensive line has allowed just one sack over the next three games and none over the past two games at Western Kentucky and home against Norfolk State.
LAUNDRY SERVICE … Morgan State mistakes in the form of penalties have been troublesome for the Bears. MSU ranks No. 10 in the MEAC in penalties (32; 71.4 avg), and will enter this weekend’s contest coming off of being flagged a season-high11 times for 115 yards against Norfolk State.
HIGGINS STANDS TALL IN QB CAROUSEL … With Robert Council, Moses Skillon and Ricky Fisk jockeying for additional playing time, Seth Higgins appears to be the lone starter for the Bears. The junior played the entire game against Norfolk State completing 5 of his 14 passes for 83 yards and tossed a touchdown. He also led the Bears on the ground with 12 carries for 63 yards, including a pair of touchdowns.
COLLECTING INTERCEPTIONS ?The Bears have recorded five interceptions through five 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-37 in the FCS in interceptions and No. 12 in passing yards allowed (152.3 avg).
HOMECOMING KING… Head coach Donald Hill-Eley has been virtually unstoppable when it comes to being victorious on Homecoming Saturdays. Morgan State has posted an impressive 9-2 record since Hill took the helm in 2002. His Bears look to rebound from a heartbreaking Homecoming loss last season against N.C. Central. The Eagles scored on a 26-yard TD pass with 25.6 seconds left to play to pull out a 24-20 victory at Hughes Stadium.
TIME TO FIX THE LEAK … The Bears’ defense has yielded over 36 points and 411 total yards through the first five games … The Bears are ranked No. 118 in rushing defense by yielding over 265 yards per game. MSU had one of its best defensive outings of the season last week limiting Norfolk State to just 134 yards on the ground.