Dover, Del. (Nov. 11, 2017) --- Delaware State overcame a 21-point second quarter deficit to defeat Morgan State 33-30 in a thrilling home finale for the Hornets at Alumni Stadium this afternoon.
DSU pulled ahead 31-30 on a three-yard pass from Keenan Black to wide receiver Trey Gross with 8.9 seconds left in the game. Black completed a two-point pass to tight end Isaiah Williams following the touchdown to give the Hornets a three-point lead.
Morgan State attempted a pass to the endzone from 48 yards on the game’s final play, but the ball was knocked away, setting off a celebration by the Hornets, who won for the second time in the last four games to improve to 2-8 overall and close out their MEAC schedule with a 2-6 record. Morgan State fell to 1-9 and 1-6 in the MEAC.
Black completed 16-of-26 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns, each a career-high. He has thrown seven touchdowns in the last two games to raise his season total to 13.
Gross had two touchdown catches for the second straight game, and the third time this season. In the five games since joining the regular wide receiver rotation, he has 24 receptions for 394 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns.
Fatu Sua-Godinet and Kwannah Kollie also had touchdown catches for the Hornets in the contest.
The Hornets also had a 100-yard runner for the first time this season. Redshirt freshman Nyfease West rushed for a game-high 110 yards on 19 carries, including several key short yardage runs to extend drives.
Black rushed for 45 yards, mostly on scrambles to avoid the Morgan State rush. He also hit key passes while on the run to keep possessions alive for the Hornets.
Morgan State started the game with a bang, scoring a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage on a 70-yard pass from DeAndre Harris to Manassah Bailey just 18 seconds into the contest.
The Bears opened up a 14-0 lead after a one-yard scoring run by Herb Walker in the first quarter and pulled ahead by three touchdowns on the second Harris to Bailey touchdown pass, from seven yards, early in the second quarter.
Delaware State began its comeback on the ensuing possession when Black capped off a five-play, 65-yard drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Gross to cut the Bears’ lead to 21-6. The extra point kick by Wisdom Nzidee was blocked. Morgan State’s Rico Kennedy scooped up the ball and returned it the other way for two points to give his team a 23-6 lead with 11:05 remaining in the second quarter.
The Hornets executed one of their best drives of the season to cut further into the deficit. The 11-play, 75-yard drive consumed 5-minutes-18 seconds and ended with a 13-yard touchdown strike from Black to Fatu Sua-Godinet. After Nzidee’s successful extra point kick, DSU pulled to within 23-13 with 4:05 left before halftime. The touchdown catch was Sua-Godinet’s third this season and fifth of his career.
Delaware State drove 85 yards on 11 plays to start the second half, but had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Nzidee to cut Morgan State’s lead to 23-16.
The Hornets took advantage of a Morgan State turnover to tie the game late in the third quarter.
Seven plays after DSU linebacker Garfield Heslop recovered a fumble caused by a Xavier Wilcher sack, Black connected with Kwannah Kollie for a 23-yard touchdown. The extra-point kick tied the score at 23 with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
After Delaware State forced Morgan to punt on the ensuing possession, the Hornets were on the verge of taking their first lead of the game. DSU drove 58 yards on five plays to the Morgan 18, but a pass by Black to Kollie was intercepted by MSU’s Corvon’Tra Revell to end the threat.
Starting from its five yard line, Morgan State drove 95 yards on 13 plays to the endzone to regain the lead. The touchdown, on a 13-yard pass from Harris to Bailey, was the third of the game for the pair and gave the Bears a 30-23 lead with 4:30 left to play.
Delaware State answered by driving deep into Morgan State territory in just three plays, but turned the ball over on a fumble by Kollie at the MSU two yard line with 1:57 left in the game.
On second down from the two-yard line, Morgan quarterback Harris fumbled the shotgun snap before being tackled in the endzone by Hornet lineman Jacob Jones for a safety to pull DSU to within 30-25.
After the free kick by Morgan State and 57-yard return by DSU’s Taronn Selby, the Hornets had the ball at the MSU 23 with 54 seconds on the clock.
Delaware State faced a fourth-and-10 at the 23, when Black hit Selby for 15 yards in the MSU eight with 28 seconds left.
A defensive holding call on the Bears moved the ball to the three. On the first play after the penalty, Black found Gross in the near left corner of the endzone for the winning touchdown.
The Hornets totaled 413 yards in the game, passing for 234 yards and collecting a season-high 179 on the ground.
“There were so many turning points in the game, but the key was staying focused and still fighting after falling behind early in the game,” said Delaware State head coach Kenny Carter.
“We faced a lot of adversity in the game, even after working so hard to come back. But every unit made plays that turned the game around.”
The Hornets will close out the 2017 season at FBS Florida State next Saturday. Game time is scheduled for 12 p.m. at Doak Walker Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.
Delaware State has averaged 258 passing yards in the last six games, compared to 154 in its first four outings … the Hornets have won their last two home games to finish 2-2 at Alumni Stadium this season.