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The Hilltop


Mission Possible: Howard Defeats UNLV in Historic Victory

Caylin Newton Shines in Freshman Debut

By: Lawrence Dow

Twitter: @LJeeeeezy

At the end of every practice The Howard University Bison breakdown practice and declare one statement: mission possible. This is the motto brought to the team by new head coach Mike London.

“All things are possible,” London said when speaking on how the team’s motto came to be.

Coach London wanted to change the culture around Howard football into something special. With such a goal there might not have been a better player that embodies the motto of mission possible then Caylin Newton. When Caylin Newton was reminded the Howard was not a football school he made one statement: “it will be.”

Coach London and Caylin shared a confidence going into to Saturday’s game against UNLV.

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“I had confidence in Caylin as a freshman quarterback because he earned it the old fashioned way,” London said.

London continued to speak about how Newton beat out three other competitors in a fierce Quarterback competition for the starting quarterback job after joining the team last spring, before freshman would normally report to school.

Howard University hasn’t been historically known as a football school. Over the last couple of years Howard has struggled to find wins on the field and support from the stands.  

Coach London Understands the relationship between fan and school, declaring, “when we win, everyone wins.”  

Coach London hopes that fans embrace this Bison team and support them through the season and especially at home games. Newton and London are both eager to change the culture around the Howard football organization both inside and outside the locker room.

Caylin Newton helped to start the journey towards the realization of that hope when he led Howard University to victory over the UNLV Rebels. This victory by Howard was the largest point spread upset in college history; a $100 bet on a Howard victory would have yielded a $55,000 dollar return. This is the first time in Howard’s history that it has beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team.

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Newton statements seemed prophetic when followed by his electrifying performance in his first game as a Howard Bison. Newton rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 140 yards and adding one touchdown through the air. After only one game Newton has already established himself as the best Howard Quarterback since Greg McGhee.

Newton received plenty of help in the Howard victory. Anthony Philyaw, the pre-season MEAC Offensive Player of the Year, added 133 all-purpose yards with two touchdowns. Both Philyaw and Newton should be thanking their offensive line, which was stout in the victory. The Howard offensive line gave one of the best performances you will ever see. They paved the way for 309 rushing yards on a 5.1 average and four rushing touchdowns. They did all of this while making sure their Quarterback never hit the ground once, which is always a goal for the offensive line.

The defense bent but it did not break, coming up with some of the most crucial plays of the game. Devin Rollins started the defense off with a 75 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, which helped Howard build a 21-9 lead at the time. UNLV would answer back though, scoring 24 unanswered points, which was punctuated by a 1 yard rushing touchdown by Charles Williams. At this point down, 33-21 in the third quarter, after a 24-0 run it seemed as if a comeback from Howard was unlikely. The “superior” FBS team asserted its dominance and had taken over the game, but then Howard responded with a 14-play 75 yard drive that ended with a Anthony Philyaw 3 yard touchdown trimmering UNLV’s lead to 33-28.

On Howard’s next drive they scored again off of another Philyaw touchdown – this time a 3 yarder with a conversion from Newton and retook a 36-33 lead for Howard. UNLV refused to lay down and lead a methodical 10 play 75 yard drive and scored a touchdown on a 3 yard run from Lexington Thomas which returned a 40-36 lead to UNLV.. Howard knew they had to respond so when they’re offense took the field they stormed down the field in 7 plays, covering 68 yards and punched the ball into the endzone on a Newton run for four yards. Howard wold not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game. UNLV took possession of the ball with just under 3 minutes left in the game Drew Tejchman was forced to fumble by Tye Freeland, who also recovered the football.

That turnover ended any real chance UNLV had of winning the game and once the last tackle of the game was made, Howard stormed the field in celebration of the largest upset in college football history. London articulated how this was such a special moment for him as coach describing the many calls that he received and seeing the jubilation in his players. The team’s motto this season has been mission possible, a motto that reveals their confidence in what they can achieve. Some outsiders and even Howard students and alumni  might’ve laughed at that idea; but no one’s laughing at Howard now.


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