Late blunder sinks Morgan State’s upset bid against Akron

Courtesy of Morgan State University Athletic Communications

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The Morgan State football team pushed FBS-member Akron to the limit, but the Zips scored a last-minute touchdown and held off an upset bid by the Bears Saturday, leaving InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field with a 24-21 home-opener win.

The Bears bottled up Akron’s spread offense for most of the night and held a 21-17 lead looking to run out the clock in the final minute after senior safety Jordan Toles collected his second pick of the night.

urnover when J.J. Davis was hit by defensive lineman CJ Nunnally IV and fumbled on the Morgan 15-yard line. Akron’s Bryan McCoy scooped up the loose ball and returned it 13-yards for the game-winning touchdown with 52 seconds remaining in the game.  

The extra point Noah Perez gave the Zips a 24-21 lead and Akron’s defense put the finishing touches on the victory when Terray Jones sacked Duce Taylor as time expired.

The Bears, who entered Saturday’s game as underdogs having lost their previous three meetings in blowouts, nearly recorded its first-ever win against an FBS opponent.

Akron (1-1) got things started after forcing a three and out on the Bears first possession. On 4th down, freshman punter Shane Messenger had his kick blocked by Noel Roach. Morgan’s turnover led to a 3-0 Zips’ lead off the foot of Noah Perez.

Sophomore quarterback Dominique Anthony, an ODU transfer, engineered a 12 play, 61-yard drive that consumed 7 minutes. The drive culminated in an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Lowe to put the Bears ahead 7-3 with 5:32 remaining in the half. 

The Bears kept the lead until 50 seconds left in the half when backup quarterback Jeff Undercuffler checked into the ballgame and put together a 67-yard drive, capped by a 29-yard TD to Alex Adams. The Zips led 10-7. On the Bears ensuing possession, Anthony attempted to throw an out pattern, but was intercepted by cornerback Devonte Golden-Nelson who raced down the sideline to give the Zips a 17-7 halftime lead. 

Morgan’s defense pitched a shutout in the third quarter. The Zips couldn’t run, couldn’t hide from the secondary and couldn’t escape from the Bears’ defense. Jae’veyon Morton and Jordan Toles intercepted passes by Undercuffler that led to two touchdown passes by the Bears quarterback Duce Taylor to wideout Treveyon Pratt.  

Taylor tossed a TD strike to Pratt to cut the Zips’ lead to 17-14, and found Pratt open in the back corner of the end zone for a 15-yard TD to help the Bears retake the lead at 21-17, with 1:55 left in the third quarter.

Taylor completed 9 of 18 passes for 102 yards and Pratt had five catches for 60 yards and two TDs.

The Zips had to earn every yard they got.  Morton and Erick Hunter had seven tackles apiece, while Elijah Williams led the Bears in the trenches with six tackles and two sacks.

Morgan’s defense recorded six tackles for loss, five sacks and three interceptions.

The Bears were sacked 3 times all of last week against Richmond, but tonight they were sacked three times in the first quarter and a total of four times for the game.

Morgan was close to earning their first 2-0 start since 1993 … In 1993 the Bears opened the season with a win against Charleston Southern (54-20) and they beat Bethune-Cookman due too forfeit (2-0) in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Akron scored 14 points in the last 50 seconds of the first half to take 17-7 lead into the intermission.

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