Morgan State has spent the early weeks of this season searching for signs of life from its largely punchless offense.
In Saturday's 24-3 loss to North Carolina A&T, that search continued in vain.
Using their fourth quarterback in five games — true freshman Seth Higgins (Edgewood) — the host Bears managed just 202 yards of total offense, while their defense allowed a career-high 233 to Aggies running back Mike Mayhew.
Through its first five games, Morgan has scored just three offensive touchdowns.
"That's just not enough," Bears coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "The biggest thing is chemistry. We've played all the quarterbacks that we have, so week in and week out, it's trying to find some continuity. We right now don't have any continuity. When you look at the personnel from running backs to offensive line to quarterback to receivers, you never see the same 11 guys."
That fact was quite evident on the Bears' offensive line Saturday. Playing without the entire starting left side — sophomore guard Joshua Durden and senior tackle Lawrence Brewer were both out with knee injuries — Morgan rushed for just 33 yards on 27 carries.
"After losing those two guys on the left side, it was almost like starting the season all over," Hill-Eley said. "All the experience you had gained through the first four games, you didn't have because these guys didn't play."
The loss denied Morgan (2-3 overall, 1-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) its first three-game winning streak since early in the 2009 season.
Despite starting their first five drives at their own 44 or closer, the Bears managed just one field goal and nine yards of offense. Three times in the first half, kicker Ervin Gonzalez had field goal attempts tipped or outright blocked.
The Aggies (2-2, 1-0), meanwhile, got big plays on the ground from Mayhew time and time again. The junior gave his team its first lead with 12:33 left in the first quarter, darting through a hole in the right side, cutting outside and outrunning the defense for a 78-yard touchdown.
He added a 40-yard run to put him over the 100-yard mark by midway through the second quarter.
"Once I got off the bus today, I was feeling it," Mayhew said. "I was in a zone. My offensive line really stepped up."
Blown coverage then increased Morgan's deficit to 17-3 with 4:21 to play in the half, as A&T quarterback Lewis Kindle found receiver Larry Raper running alone down the right sideline for a 47-yard touchdown.
Morgan's offense couldn't respond, crossing midfield just once in the second half — for one play.
"You've got to score, and we didn't do our job today," said Higgins, who finished 22 of 40 for 169 yards and two interceptions. "We've just got to work on it in practice and get better every day."
Hill-Eley said he plans to stick with Higgins for next week's Homecoming game against Savannah State.
"We feel that he gives us our best chance," Hill-Eley said. "He wasn't running around in the pocket, and he did make some good decisions. The mistakes he had were effort mistakes."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times