- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 14, 2003

For many years, the battle of the HU’s — Hampton and Howard — was the elite football game on the East Coast between historically black colleges. The series was played at neutral sites for 15 years because the teams were so evenly matched and the rivalry was a hot ticket.

Recently, however, Hampton has dominated. In yesterday’s 80th meeting with the series tied 39-39-1, Hampton defeated Howard for the seventh consecutive time, 17-14 before 10,500 at Greene Stadium.

Behind a rushing attack that gained 269 yards, the Pirates took command on a 15-yard touchdown run by Alonzo Coleman for a 17-7 lead with 10:07 left.

Hampton survived 10 penalties totaling 121 yards in a sloppy game and withstood a Howard defense that forced five turnovers, including three fumble recoveries by strong safety Antoine Bethea.

Howard (0-2, 0-1 MEAC) trailed 7-0 late in the second quarter before free safety Vontrae Long stripped Hampton running back Rian Thompson (29 carries, 163 yards). Bethea recovered the ball and returned it 26 yards for a game-tying touchdown.

“I was in the right place,” Bethea said.

A turnover also cost Hampton on its previous series, Howard linebacker Greg Spriggs recovering at the goal line and returning 46 yards.

Howard’s secondary kept the game close before Hampton’s offensive line helped wear down the Bison defense in the second half.

Thompson, who was contained in the first half, ran for 101 yards after intermission, including an 11-yard run with 46 seconds remaining that assured the victory for the Pirates (1-1, 1-0), who last started a season 0-2 in 1991.

“I thought their defense was tired,” Thompson said. “I carry the ball at least 60 times in practice. I prepare myself for games like this, so running 30 times isn’t going to slow me down even if I am banged up.”

Howard, on the other hand, struggled offensively. One week after running for 252 yards in a 27-20 loss to Texas Southern, the Bison accumulated 63 yards on 28 carries. The early loss of running back Keon Coleman, who gained a career-best 157 yards last week, forced Howard to throw. Coleman apparently injured an ankle, and his status for next week’s game against Akron was not known.

Junior college transfer Ronald Venters, who started at quarterback for the Bison, completed only four of 13 passes for 15 yards before being replaced in the second half by junior Marcos Moreno (eight for 15, 80 yards). Moreno provided Howard’s only offensive touchdown with a 25-yard curl pass to wide receiver Shaun Miller, capping a nine-play, 72-yard drive with 3:10 left.

“Hampton has the best defensive front line,” Howard coach Rayford Petty said. “When they blitzed, it definitely disrupted our offense.”

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