WASHINGTON — Howard University junior quarterback Greg McGhee racked up almost 300 yards of total offense and three touchdowns to lead the Bison (1-1) to a 27-16 win over the Morehouse College Maroon Tigers (0-1) in the 3rd annual AT&T Nation’s Football Classic® before 17,012 at RFK Stadium.
McGhee, named the game’s Most Valuable Player, was sacked only once with no interceptions as he accounted for 296 of Howard’s 342 yards of total offense. McGhee was also voted Classic MVP in 2011.
“This game is big,” said Howard head coach Rayford Petty. “We wanted to come in and control the tempo of this game. Greg did an outstanding job. We looked good on defense and we were able to take advantage of that.”
While this meeting between the two schools was not a down-to-the-wire contest like the first two Classics (the 2011 and 2012 games had a four point total deficit), the Maroon Tigers still gave the crowd a reason to sit on the edge of their seats.
After the first quarter ended in a 3-3 tie, the Bison threatened to put the game away when the team put up 17 unanswered points to take a 20-3 lead going into halftime.
McGhee did most of the damage, connecting with Anthony Philyaw on a 20-yard pass and Matthew Colvin on a 27-yard strike, sandwiched around a 33-yard field goal by John Fleck.
The Bison extended their lead to 27-3 when McGhee threw his third scoring pass of the day, 26 yards out to Rodney Tyson with 7:34 left in the third quarter.
The Maroon Tigers caught fire, though, and turned a Howard turnover into a touchdown when Joshua Harris connected with Brandon Sartine from nine yards out to make it 27-9 with 0:49 on the clock in the third quarter.
Morehouse got even closer when Shelton Hamilton capped off a nine-play, 90-yard drive to reduce the deficit to 27-16 with 10:06 still left in regulation.
The Bison defense, which recorded nine sacks, took over from there, thwarting any Maroon Tiger comeback attempts. The win marked the sixth-straight for Howard in the all-time series.
Harris, who rushed for 78 yards and completed 18 of 31 for 193 yards and a touchdown, led the Maroon Tigers in total offense with 271 yards.
As in previous years, the Classic game was the height of an entire weekend of educational and entertaining events that began Thursday, Sept. 5 and included a Presidential Symposium, AT&T Kickoff Rally, Howard vs. Morehouse Student Debate and the Pepsi® Fan Festival. Notable celebrity guest stars and performers included Grammy-nominated recording artist Ciara, who headlined the AT&T Kickoff Rally, and entertainment personality Fonzworth Bentley and actress Wendy Raquel Robinson, who co-hosted the rally. Grammy-nominated singer Raheem DeVaughn, Experience Unlimited (E.U.) and Mambo Sauce performed at the Pepsi Fan Festival.
Prior to kickoff, DC Washington, a 22-year veteran of the United States Army and noted national choir performer, sung the national anthem. Chelsey Rodgers, Miss District of Columbia International 2010 and an alumna of Spelman College and Howard University School of Law, performed “Lift Every Voice.” Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray conducted the ceremonial coin toss with Jay Ellis of BET’s “The Game.” The halftime show was co-hosted by Ellis and LeToya Luckett of Centric’s “Culture List” and featured the highly anticipated “Battle of the Bands” between the Howard University Showtime Marching Band and the Morehouse College House of Funk.
Also spotted in the crowd was actress Vanessa Bell Calloway and offensive guard Ramon Harewood, who played football at Morehouse and won a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens last season.