- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 1, 2012

Before Saturday’s game, freshman quarterback Jamie Cunningham was third on Howard’s depth chart. But after leading the Bison on two fourth quarter scoring drives to pull off a dramatic 30-29 win over the Morehouse Maroon Tigers, Cunningham has vaulted right to the top.

In the season opener for both teams, Howard defeated Morehouse in the second annual AT&T Nation’s Football Classic on Saturday afternoon at RFK. It was a contest that Howard began at a huge disadvantage.

Fourteen members of the Bison football team have been suspended for rule violations, including sophomore quarterback Greg McGhee. The players could be cleared to return by the third week of the season. Junior Randy Liggins got the start, but was pulled for Cunningham by Howard coach Gary “Flea” Harrell, who felt Liggins was letting the game get away from him.

“My coach always tells me to stay calm, stay cool, no pressure,” Cunningham said. “We all get first team reps in practice, so it was nothing new. When the opportunity came, I was ready for it.”

Down 23-17 with 2:21 left in the game, Cunningham led the Bison down the field, who scored on a two-yard run by sophomore running back Aquanius Freeman.

The Maroon Tigers answered. Junior quarterback Donnay Ragland completed a pass to a wide open Devon Mann, who took the ball down the sideline on a 72-yard run for a touchdown, giving Morehouse the lead, 29-24. The Maroon Tigers were unsuccessful on a two-point conversion.

Cunningham wasn’t fazed. In the closing seconds, he led the Bison on an eight-play drive for 49 yards, and threw a game-winning touchdown pass to tight end David Wilson. Cunningham was voted the game’s MVP.

Too many quarterbacks is now good problem for Harrell, who had been considering red-shirting Cunningham.
“We’re going through a struggle,” Harrell said. “We came into the season not expecting some of these guys to play. In a perfect world, Greg would have been in the game. Then Randy hit a brick wall and lost his composure, and we had to make a decision. We told Jamie ‘let’s go’.”

Harrell plans to go with Cunningham as his starter when the Bison play Rutgers next week.

“We’re not a bad football team team, but to be MEAC champs we got to improve our fundamentals to get where we want to be,” Harrell said.

Howard now leads the AT&T Classic rivalry 2-0 over Morehouse, after last season’s 30-27 win in the inaugural game.

“We felt like we should have done a little bit better job defensively,” said Morehouse coach Rich Freeman. “We had some mistakes, some mental breakdowns. We just look forward to improving on that in the weeks to come.”

Freeman praised the play of his quarterback, Ragland, and his kicker, freshman Dorian Greene, as two of the bright spots in the Maroon Tigers’ offense.

“It’s hard to lose like that,” said Morehouse’s senior running back David Carter, who was named to the preseason All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) first team.

“We played as hard as we could. I’m ready to get this loss out of the way and go on to the next game.”