After a week in which the city received 15 inches of rain, the sun finally broke through and the weather held up. Advance sales are rarely great at games like the NFC, and the constant deluge dampened them even further. But lines at the ticket windows were 20 to 30 deep as game time neared and tailgaters sauntered toward the stadium. Plenty of empty seats were visible when Howard kicked off, but a crowd of 18,409 was announced before the game was over.
And the crowd was treated to quite a thriller in Howard’s 30-27 victory. The Bison fell behind, 20-9, early in the third quarter before rallying behind Greg McGhee. The freshman quarterback threw a pair of touchdown passes and junior halfback Charles Brice added a 17-yard scoring run to give Howard a 30-20 lead with six minutes left in the game.
However, the Maroon Tigers kept matters interesting when junior defensive back Latavius Watts scooped up a Brice fumble and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown, closing the gap to 30-27 with 2:20 remaining. Though their onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, the Tigers got the ball back with 37 seconds left in the game and reached Howard’s 25-yard line on a long pass from junior quarterback Byron Ingram to senior wide receiver Derrick Hector.
But Ingram was sacked by senior defensive end Corey Berry, and time expired about one second before Morehouse could attempt a final play. McGhee, who completed 22 of 29 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
It turned out that the game was as entertaining as the halftime show, which wasn’t necessarily a given. Keisha Knight Pulliam, of The Cosby Show fame, and A.J. Calloway, from Extra, hosted the Battle of the Bands, making no attempt to hide their favoritism (Pulliam attended Spelman College, and Calloway attended Howard). They also gave shout-outs to their respective Greek-letter organizations, Delta Sigma Theta and Omega Psi Phi.