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Howard football stages huge comeback in Homecoming game against Norfolk State

The Howard football team made a dramatic comeback during their homecoming weekend, defeating the Norfolk State Spartans 27-23 in their MEAC opener, with a game-changing interception anchoring their victory.

Howard University football’s defense attacks Norfolk State University during their 2023 homecoming matchup. (Jacob Hanesworth/The Hilltop)

The Howard football team defeated the Norfolk State Spartans in their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) opener during Howard’s homecoming weekend at Greene Stadium.

This was considered to be a hard-fought game for the Bison as they rallied late in the fourth quarter, pulling off a huge comeback win. The last time Howard faced the Spartans during their homecoming, Norfolk State defeated the Bison 45-31 at Greene Stadium. 

This time, the Bison came ready to fight, defeating the Spartans in an incredible 27-23 comeback that was anchored by a game-changing interception by the Bison.

Graduate student quarterback Quinton Williams was able to share insights on the comeback win at the post-game press conference. 

“We just had to sustain drives. Earlier in the first half we couldn’t really get rhythm going, we had a couple three-and-outs and you can’t win ball games like that,” he said. “In the second half in general, we just had to sustain drives and keep drives going, which was big for us offensively.”

The Spartans made huge play statements in the first half, driving 65 yards in 11 plays to kick a 20-yard field goal and 76 yards in 10 plays to increase the score to 10-6. 

NSU kept the momentum going with their junior quarterback Otto Kuhns executing a 14-yard touchdown pass to sophomore running back Kevon King, increasing their lead to 17-6 in the first half. 

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Howard made major efforts in an attempt to score a touchdown before halftime but the Bison had a field goal kick converted by sophomore punter Aaron Bickerton at 30-yards which increased the score 17-9 at halftime. 

“We talked about a lot of edges and flows of the game, ups and downs, some good and bad on both sides of the ball. Coming out of halftime, we just had to understand, take it one play at a time,” Williams said. “You can’t get plays back until the first half is done. We just gotta build and we kept building going into the fourth quarter and we finished strong.” 

Eden James and Tony Bedell prepare to take the field for Howard. ( Skylar Nelson/The Hilltop)

Prominent plays were completed by Quinton Williams in conjunction with senior defensive back Kenny Gallop Jr. and senior running back Jarret Hunter to put the Bison ahead in the game before the great homecoming crowd. 

The Norfolk State Spartans executed a 36-yard field goal with under six minutes left in the fourth quarter, putting the Spartans in the lead 23-20. The Howard Bison then showed up just in time to dominate, with Williams driving 64 yards in nine plays allowing the Bison to manage the clock in the best way possible. Senior running back Jarret Hunter put the Bison in the lead 27-23 with 1:17 left in the fourth quarter. 

Graduate student defensive lineman Darrian Brokenburr shared some insights on the importance of this game, specifically, in the post-game press conference. 

“Emphasizing to the team, ‘the magnitude of the moment.’ You don’t get this opportunity many times, and we have the chance to do something special at Howard University and that’s what you saw today – which hasn’t been done since 1993,” said Brokenburr. “We were just excited about that.” 

Norfolk State managed to get to the 46-yard line with no timeouts remaining and with the clock running down. The Spartans were pressured to pass down the field where the Bison executed a game-sealing interception. The game ended with a kneel by Quinton Williams proclaiming a homecoming victory for Howard.

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 “The point that we drove home this week was just having ‘rational confidence’, confidence that’s never-ending and I think that’s what we played with. Even though we had points in the game when we weren’t winning, we played like we were confident that we were gonna win. I think that’s what led to the victory today,” said Brokenburr. 

The Howard Bison improved their record to 2-4 overall, establishing a 1-0 record in the MEAC Conference while the Norfolk State Spartans ended the day with 2-5 overall and an 0-1 record in the MEAC.

Copy edited by Alana Matthew


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