Bears try to turn tables on Scarlet Knights

Sports,Dave Carey
Morgan State defensive end Clarence McPherson said the team’s nationally ranked defense has a simple goal when it tries to upset Rutgers this weekend: convert turnovers into points.

“The message is turnovers and score — get them in the end zone,” the senior said. “We don’t look at Rutgers any different. They put on their shoulder pads and helmet just like us. We have been scoring every game and getting turnovers every game, so this should be no different.”

The Bears (2-1) will try to beat the heavily-favored Scarlet Knights (0-3) from the larger Football Bowl Subdivision on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 in Piscataway, N.J. Rutgers has played in a bowl game each of the past three seasons, but has struggled without former standout and current Ravens rookie running back Ray Rice, including a 23-21 loss to Navy in Annapolis last weekend.

“It’s definitely a David versus Goliath matchup,” Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley said. “It’s important to be able to give these young men an opportunity to go up and play an [FBS] school and get the atmosphere to get a barometer on ourselves —whether it’s pound for pound talent, scheme or coaching.”

Morgan State will rely on McPherson and its defense, ranked fourth overall in the 118-team Football Championship Subdivision, which is yielding a meager 210.3 yards per game. The Bears are allowing an average of just 11.7 points per game and have recorded 10 sacks and nine interceptions, both in the top 10 nationally.

Rutgers offensive players are better than anyone Morgan State has faced this season, but the Scarlet Knights have struggled to score this year, averaging just 13.3 points and 363 yards per game. The Morgan State defense has allowed just 12-of-38 third-down conversions and has not allowed opponents to convert any of seven fourth-down attempts.

The Bears offense also will try to exploit a Scarlet Knight rushing attack yielding more than 211 yards on the ground per game. Morgan State’s biggest offensive weapon is redshirt sophomore running back Devan James, who has run for 389 yards and a touchdown on 74 carries this season. His 129.7 yards per game average is eighth in the FCS.

“We want to put Morgan State on the map,” McPherson said. “That’s what we are trying to do. We have aspiration to go to the next level and it’s a challenge for everybody.”

  • Morgan State (2-1) vs. Rutgers (0-3)
  • When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
  • Where: Rutgers Stadium, Piscataway, N.J.
  • Radio: 88.9 FM
  • Tickets: Available
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