The Hampton University football team faced MEAC rival Howard on Saturday afternoon without injured redshirt senior Jeremiah Schwartz, one of the top running backs in the league.
But the Pirates may have found a quarterback for the future in true freshman Brian Swain, despite a 20-10 loss in the nation’s capital on a cloudy day with winds swirling nearly 20 miles per hour and temperatures in the 40s at Greene Stadium.
Swain, a walk-on, took his first snaps at the college level as he got the start.
After he failed to hold on to the ball twice early on Swain was replaced in the second quarter by Jaylian “J.J.” Williamson of Chesapeake.
But Swain, a scrambling 6-foot lefty from Texas, played the entire second half and gained 105 yards on 14 carries, including a 33-yard touchdown run with 9:09 left in the third quarter that cut the Howard lead to 13-10.
“It was a great feeling. I had not played since November of my senior year of high school,” said Swain, who completed 13 of 23 passes for 91 yards with no interceptions. “I missed some open throws. I have to be more patient. I have to stay in the pocket and go through my progressions.”
Hampton coach Donovan Rose told Swain on Tuesday he would get the start and he became the fourth quarterback used this season. Swain accounted for 191 of the 281 yards on offense for the Pirates.
“He was giving our guys fits in practice. I told our coaches we have to find a way to give him an opportunity,” Rose said. “I thought for the first game he played well.”
Hampton quarterback Travis Champion has played in six games this season but has a concussion and did not play against Howard (6-3, 5-2 MEAC), which got 182 yards on the ground from running back Terrence Leffall.
The Bison have now won the last two meetings after Hampton (2-6, 2-4) dominated the series for 14 years.
“We knew exactly what they were going to run, but it came down to execution,” said Keith McAfee, a freshman linebacker for the Pirates who had a game-high 12 tackles. “There were some times we had some miscommunication and it really hurt us in the long run.”
Most of the Howard rushing yards came on runs up the middle. Quarterback Randy Liggins Jr. ran 6 yards for a score to give Howard a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, and Leffall ran 18 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to make it 13-0.
Hampton’s Taurean Durham kicked a 23-yard field goal on the last play of the first half to make it 13-3. After the Pirates trimmed the lead to 13-10, Leffall ran 8 yards for another score with 12:12 left in the game to account for the final margin.
Iowa State transfer Schwartz, who has 794 rushing yards, said after the game he injured his thigh in practice Thursday. “I will be ready,” he said of the contest Saturday at Delaware State.
Will Swain start that game? “Without a doubt,” Rose said. “Experience is going to help him. The biggest thing now is knowing what kind of quarterback we have. None of the others possess the running ability he does. We have to cater the offense more to him since he can obviously run the ball.”
Hampton fumbled five times and lost two. For the season, the Pirates have fumbled 26 times and lost 12. “You can’t do that,” Rose said. “I don’t like to sound like a broken record, but our youth is showing.”
Notes: Bethel High and NBA product Allen Iverson, the former Georgetown basketball star, was at the game. He sat in front of the press box and greeted several Howard fans during the third quarter … Delbert Tyler had 10 tackles for the Pirates and Antwon Chisholm had five catches.
Howard beats Hampton as Pirates' running QB makes debut
True freshman Swain accounts for 191 of his team's 281 yards in first start
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