Solid defense not enough as winless DSU falls to Bears

DOVER — Was it bad offense by the hosts or good defense from the visitors?

Either way, Delaware State University didn’t generate near enough forward motion in Saturday afternoon’s 26-6 loss to visiting Morgan State. It was the third time in four games the winless Hornets scored a touchdown or less.

And yet, the outcome was still in doubt until late in the fourth quarter thanks to a stalwart defensive effort by the hosts led by sophomore linebacker Malik Harris, junior end Gabe Sherrod, senior safety Terrick Colston, senior cornerback J.R. Robinson and others.

Finally, though, an 80-yard scoring drive by the Bears upped the visitors advantage to a comfortable 19-6 with 5:33 remaining at Alumni Stadium. The Hornets fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and only the final margin was in doubt. The Bears added another touchdown soon afterward.

Playing in their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opener under gray skies and with the roar of racing at nearby Dover International Speedway ever present, the Hornets (0-4) only score came on a 65-yard connection between scrambling junior quarterback Esayah Obado and junior receiver Malik Golston midway through the third quarter that tied the game at 6-6.

“When I saw him scrambling and I saw where the cornerback was I just took off up the field,” said Golston, a Smyrna High product.

Alas, the 30-yard extra point was wide right after a DSU penalty turned the point after touchdown into a 30-yard try.

Less than six minutes later, Moses Skillon rushed 32 yards for what turned into the game-winning touchdown late in the third quarter. Morgan State improved to 2-2.

When DSU did make some positive gains, a host of penalties often followed – the Hornets were set back 101 yards on 11 infractions.

“The second half we came out kind of flat and the penalties killed us,” quarterback Obado said. “We’ve got to get that straightened out.”

DSU generated just 87 yards in the second half, and had five consecutive three and out series after tying the score.

Also, Harris (team high 12 tackles, four for loss) and sophomore cornerback Mark Flakes (nine tackles) both nearly made interceptions in the fourth quarter that could have possibly turned the tide in what was a one-score contest.

“We came out and played hard, but we just have to take advantage of the opportunities we’re given,” Harris said.

Two early drives fizzled as DSU surrendered the ball at Morgan State’s 33- and 3-yard lines in the first quarter after solid drives led by running back Jamaal Jackson. (78 yards on 17 carries overall).

“I thought we battled and fought, but you have to learn to finish,” first-year DSU head coach Kenny Carter said. “ … The kids are understanding what we’re trying to do schematically, we just have to execute.”

Added quarterback Esayah, “Coach was calling some good plays that we just weren’t executing.”

The Hornets defense was especially stout in the first half, limiting the visitors to 110 yards total offense. Harris,

Morgan State needed eight plays to move 27 yards in the closing 4 1/2 minutes of the first half to set up the first score of the game. With 41 seconds left in the first half, Chris Moller drilled a 26-yard field goal with the wind for a 3-0 advantage.

The drive was set up by Jeremiah McGeough’s short punt into the wind that allowed the Bears to start the scoring drive just 36 yards from the end zone.

DSU opened and closed the first half with turnovers – Aris Scott fumbled the opening kickoff away, while quarterback Esayah tossed an interception on a long heave as time ran out in the second quarter.

DSU plays at Hampton next Saturday.

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