Morgan football fans finally had something to applaud at Hughes Stadium during the football game. At halftime the 1967 undefeated championship football team was honored and the crowd gave them a standing ovation. That was about all they had to cheer for, because the current team suffered another lopsided loss 49-17 to the North Carolina A&T Aggies.
The stadium was full of fans with attendance listed at 7,437. Both sides of the stands were near full with A&T bringing two buses full of fans, as well as many local alumni joining them in the guest stands. At first they outnumbered Morgan fans until our stands began to fill shortly after kickoff.
Most of our students and fans were excited during the pre-game. That feeling did not last long. On the Aggies second offensive play, they scored on a 72-yard run by running back Marquell Cartwright. That play set the tone for the rest of the game. The crowd was forced to remain quiet for most of the first half.
They began to pick up intensity right before halftime. The offense was moving down field for the first time, and after a 21-yard reception by Mannasah Bailey put them at the five yard line, they were poised to score their first points of the season. The crowd was cheering as they had already scored, and that joy turned into sorrow in a flash. Two plays later, they were stunned as A&T cornerback Franklin McCain raced 100 yards the other way to score a touchdown.
Despite the acknowledgment from Morgan fans that the game was over with 35-0 on the board, there was still a large presence in attendance. Some out of respect for the ‘67 team that was represented by over ten members of the former record setting squad. They owned the record with a 26 game winning streak over a three year span. Other fans stayed for different reasons.
“I’m going to come back and support them, fifty percent because my tuition is included in the games, I’m paying for the games,” said Nehemi-El Omowale, freshman philosophy major, “the other half is because this is college and this is my school, but they are [bad].”
The loudest cheer from fans had a sense of relief attached to it. Early in the third quarter, quarterback Elijah Staley hit wide receiver Brian Gentry with a 83-yard bomb for a touchdown. Not only were fans excited about the big play, it was also the first points scored all year for the Bears.
“[Their performance] has affected me, but not too big, I still wanna come back and see if they will improve,” said Samuel Akintowide, a junior electrical engineer, “they had a milestone today and scored their first touchdown, that’s something we came to watch for.”
The MEAC schedule for this team has just started, so although they may be (0-4) now, the season is far from over. Morgan fans understand this and won’t let a slow start to the season deter their fun. The game still remains a social event, so for many the results are arbitrary.
But not all fans are as understanding and their frustration is beginning to show. After a ten point run to start the fourth quarter, spirits began to mount as the lead was cut to 25. That all ended when Staley threw another interception for a touchdown to finally cement the victory for A&T. It was at this point, fans had and began to head for the exits.
“I see that they are not good at all, they don’t sub any players that are playing bad,” said Melquel Bush. a freshman civil engineer major. “If it wasn’t for Homecoming I promise you I would not be there, ever again.”
Although fans may share Bush’s sentiments, attendance and participation did not show it. Fans remained engaged well into the fourth and cheered on the band and the cheerleaders throughout.
The Bears return in home in two weeks to face Savannah State for homecoming on Oct. 14.