Washington D.C.– The Howard University Bison Football team was unable to match the success they had against Bethune Cookman and take home the win against standing Mid Eastern Athletic Conference champions, the North Carolina Central University (NCCU) Eagles. The Eagles beat the Bison 13-7 at Greene Stadium this Saturday, in a battle of defenses.
Bison quarterback Caylin Newton threw for 328 yards and had two interceptions that put the bison defense on their heels. One pick was returned for 35 yds by Davanta Reynolds. Isaiah Totten of the NCCU Eagles rushed for 117 yds and quarterback Chauncey Caldwell rushed for 89 yds. The bison defense led by veteran linebacker Devin Rollins held the Eagles to six points in the first half, while the Eagle defense held the bison to zero points scored in the second half of play.
Coming into this game, each team struggled in the first half, scoring less points than their opponents in all of their games. Each team also came into this contest outscoring all of their opponents in the fourth quarter. The Bison broke their half time streak and fourth quarter streak; while the Eagles broke their fourth quarter streak by not scoring at all, but ultimately their third quarter play willed them to the win. The third quarter score that would put the Eagles on top, came from a miscommunication in coverage that would allow for NCCU senior wide receiver, Jacen Murphy, to score a 30 yard touchdown splitting triple coverage from the Bisons.
The offensive standout for the Bison was starting punter turned starting wide receiver, Damion Gillespie, a sophomore who attended high school in Singapore. Gillespie, a walk-on for the bison, moved from wide receiver his freshman year to punter, after Dakota Lebofsky went down due to an injury. Gillespie averaged roughly 34 yards in punting last year, and today as starting wide receiver, had 153 yards in receiving on seven catches, the most for a receiver on the day. Gillespie provided the Bison with their only score of the game a 75 yard touchdown.
Howard’s biggest misstep in this game was penalties. The bison had 113 yards in penalties, at least four special teams penalties, and an unsportsmanlike call on Newton at the two yard line. “We had a costly penalty by a young guy, the good thing about a freshman, is he’s a freshman,” said head coach Mike London.
Newton’s penalty lead to a Lebofsky blocked field goal from roughly 30 yards out. “It’s disappointing because you’re close, but we will continue to keep climbing this mountain, and making sure that our opportunities at the end of a game, come out favorable,” said London.
Looking forward to the next game against the Delaware State Hornets in Dover, Delaware, London is looking to ensure that his athletes close their gaps and know their assignments.
“It goes back to making sure each guy is doing his job, do what you’re supposed to do, worry about your assignments. I think that if collectively we can do that we’ll be ok, we had a couple miscues in special teams, we got beat one-on-one in some instances; if you take care of what your job and your responsibility is, it makes the whole operation go better.”
His main goal going into next week is to gain a win against the 0-4 Hornets, stating, “We’re hungry for a W.”