By: Aman Kidwai
In the first game of the season on their home field at Greene Stadium, the Howard Bison (2-3, 2-1 MEAC) made easy work of the Delaware State Hornets, 55-13, on a windy afternoon in Shaw.
It wasn’t a perfect day for head coach Mike London’s squad. But it was a breakthrough performance for a previously struggling defense. It was also a promising response by this young team after last week’s close loss at North Carolina Central.
“It was the most complete game we’ve had since we’ve been here, in all three phases,” London said after the game. “We wanted to start fast, we wanted to apply and keep the pressure on, we wanted to challenge their corners.”
And that’s exactly what they did. After forcing a Delaware State turnover during the game’s first possession, Howard quickly found the end zone as star quarterback Caylin Newton lofted one up for running back Jordan Aley. Aley leaped up and showed incredible focus to come down with the ball while a defender was draped all over him.
Wide receiver Jequez Ezzard scored three touchdowns—all in the first half—on receptions of 78, 47, and 63 yards, becoming the first player in school history to score three receiving touchdowns in consecutive games. The Bison racked up 23 points in the first quarter and another 18 in the second to take a 41-6 lead into the halftime break.
Newton finished with 313 passing yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. Howard’s offense put up 529 total yards and continues to impress. Newton did a great job of finding his playmakers in space and hanging in the pocket to release throws.
Despite the big win, London and his staff still have areas of improvement. At times the offensive timing looked off, and the running game wasn’t able to get going in the second half as they attempted to close out the game. Newton’s completion percentage was low, and his interception went right to a defender in the end zone when at least one receiver was wide open.
Defensively, the Bison had a solid day. But they still have a ways to go in maintaining consistent execution. A lot of underclassmen are playing on both sides of the ball, so this is understandable. But their youth will need to mature for the Bison to keep raising the bar this season, especially with a big November 3 matchup against 4-2 Florida A&M looming.
“Hopefully the emotional maturity is starting to set in,” London said. “It can get chippy out there, and that happened a couple of times [on Saturday], but we kept our poise.”
Howard travels to Baltimore next weekend to take on the Morgan State Bears. Kick-off will be at 7 p.m. in Hughes Stadium.