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Howard Falls Short of Victory in Truth and Service Classic Game

The Howard University Bison fell short to the Hampton Pirates 48-32 in the Truth and Service Classic football game, known to the HBCU community as “The Battle of the HU’s.”

Photo Courtesy of Michael Schollis

The Howard University Bison fell short to the Hampton Pirates 48-32 in the Truth and Service Classic football game, known to the HBCU community as “The Battle of the HU’s.” 

In an appearance at Audi Field, home stadium for the Major League Soccer team D.C. United, 14,577 people were in attendance for the highly anticipated football game.

According to NBCSportsgroupPressBox,  Danita Johnson, president of business operations for D.C. United said, “It’s an honor to welcome such a historic rivalry between the two long standing HBCUs to Audi Field for what we expect will deliver an unrivaled game-day atmosphere. We’re excited to partner with NBCUniversal to bring this game to a national audience and to further the exposure of Howard University, a wonderful academic and athletic institution in our region.”

NBC Senior Vice President Damon Philips said, “We’re pleased to present the first ever [televised] Truth and Service Classic with a historic matchup between these two iconic HBCU programs.”

Howard hosted Hampton nationally, on NBC Sports Network.

Vice President Kamala Harris (Class of 1986) was in attendance at the game and was chosen to lead the coin toss. Howard won the coin toss and deferred until the second half.

The Pirates relied on their rushing attack, led by freshman Elijah Burris and redshirt sophomore Darran Butts, to get their offense moving downfield. After some early three and outs, the Bison offense was able to pick up late in the first quarter. Their 3-play, 80-yard drive ended with junior quarterback Quinton Williams finding the senior wideout Antoine Murray to equal the score 7-7 going into the second quarter. 

The slow start led to back to back punts to start off the second quarter. Hampton quarterback Jett Duffey, a transfer from Texas Tech, found junior wideout Jadakis Bonds across the middle for a 33-yard touchdown, giving the Pirates a 14-7 lead over the Bison. 

The Bison offense responded quickly, putting together a touchdown drive of their own, allowing Williams to keep the passing attack going. Their 8-play, 75-yard drive ended with a 16-yard bullet pass, finding junior tight end Thomas Vi in the end zone. This series of plays tied the game at 14-14 with 6:45 remaining.

After gaining two first downs for the Pirates, with Butts in the backfield, Duffey was able to hit senior WR Hezekiah Grimsley for a 57-yard pass, which led to a rushing touchdown for the freshman phenom Elijah Burris. The Pirates regained their lead of 21-14, with 4:43 remaining. The Bison’s 45-yard field goal cut the Pirates’ lead to 21-17 at halftime, with just over a minute remaining in the quarter.

After the intermission, the Pirates defense dominated the third quarter by capitalizing off the turnovers made by the Bison. 

Opening drive Williams’ short throw was tipped and intercepted by Hampton junior linebacker KeShaun Moore. Moore returned the ball 13-yards, before being tackled out of bounds, putting the Pirates in a scoring position at the 16-yard line.

The Pirates took advantage of their starting position by handing the ball off to Keyondre White three consecutive times. White powered his way into the endzone for his second touchdown of the day, giving the Pirates the first two possessions to lead 28-17, with 12:20 left in the third quarter.

The Bison ended their next drive with a punt that set the Pirates at the 5-yard line. 

With little room to work with, and his back against his own end zone, Duffey delivered a 95-yard touchdown, putting the Pirates ahead 35-17 on the scoreboard.

This was the longest touchdown pass in Big South Conference history.

The Bison defense stopped the Pirates from converting a 4th & 1 in their own end zone, giving the Bison offense their fourth and last possession of the quarter with 4:07 left.

For their final possession of the quarter, the Bison made their way down the field as Williams completed their third, 3rd down conversion of the game.

With the ball on the 44-yard line, on 2nd & 1, the Pirates forced their third turnover of the quarter. Williams was hit as he threw the ball, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by the Pirates.

This was the third turnover caused, over the last four possessions, by the Pirates defense.

Darran Butts turned the turnover to points scored by the offense after taking the ball 43-yards down the field, extending the Pirates lead 42-17.

The Pirates ended the third quarter with three touchdowns, looking to close the game heading into the fourth quarter on Sept. 18. 

The Bison did not throw in the towel heading into the final quarter. Williams connected with sophomore wideout Kasey Hawthorne on a 22-yard touchdown. The team lessened the Pirates lead to 42-25, with 10:36 left in the forth.

Williams came out the next possession, slinging a 44-yard pass to senior wideout Antione Murray (Williams passed for a career-high 357 yards against Hampton). This pass led to a 8-yard run by sophomore running back Jarett Howard, closing the Pirates lead 42-32 with 7:13 remaining.

Duffey kept the ball on a quarterback keeper, scoring on a 8-yard rush putting the game away. The Hampton Pirates defeated the Howard Bison 48-32.

Hampton leads the respective football rivalry in “The Battle of Real HU” with a 54–41–1 record. This is Hampton’s fifth consecutive win against Howard.

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