Howard U. Beats Morehouse, 27-16, in AT&T Nation's Football Classic

Events DC | 9/7/2013, 9:40 p.m. | Updated on 9/11/2013, 3 p.m.
Howard University junior quarterback Greg McGhee racked up almost 300 yards of total offense and three touchdowns to lead the ...
Howard Bison WR Matthew Calvin protects the football from Morehouse Maroon Tigers DB Lance Bennett en route to a touchdown in the second quarter of Howard's 27-16 win in the third annual Nation's Football Classic at RFK Stadium in D.C. on Sept. 7. Photo by John DeFreitas

A chip on the shoulder of Greg McGhee didn’t prevent the third year quarterback from carrying the Howard Bison to another victory over the Morehouse Maroon Tigers in the third annual AT&T Classic at RFK Stadium in Southeast on Saturday, Sept. 7.

McGhee did most of his damage to the Tigers in the first half, racking up the majority of his three touchdowns and 242 passing yards in Howard's 27-16 win before a primarily partisan crowd of 17,000 spectators.

"I had a chip on my shoulder coming into the game," McGhee said, noting that a suspension forced him to miss last year’s classic. "I wanted to come out and show why I should have been on the field last year."

For the second time in the three years of the classic, McGhee, 21, earned Most Valuable Player honors.

"Greg did an outstanding job," Howard head coach Ray Petty said. "[However], we looked good on defense and we were able to take advantage of that."

Howard has now defeated Morehouse in 16 of 18 contests between the rivals.

"This game was an early season test. Unfortunately, we didn’t measure up today," Morehouse head coach Rich Freeman said. "We’re only going to improve."

Each school, which counts among the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), opened in 1867 and their football teams began playing each other annually in 1923.

After a break in the 1960s, Howard and Morehouse renewed their rivalry on the gridiron in the 1980s before taking another break following the 1997 season and, finally, resuming again three years ago.

The meetings have been highlighted not only by hard-fought football games, but the weeklong

festivities leading up to each contest, including debates, concerts, and late night parties.

At approximately 2:30 p.m., on game day, droves of fans could be seen wearing Howard University apparel as they walked from the Stadium Armory Metro Station to the parking lot of RFK to attend the various tailgating events before kickoff.

Vendors lined East Capitol Street selling various memorabilia including buttons, shirts and posters of the home team. Scalpers also showed up, despite the relative scarce attendance inside the 45,500-seat stadium.

Crowds scattered across the parking lot ordering food from trucks serving up Caribbean dishes, Philly cheese steaks, ice cream and even beer.

Personnel from Majic 102.3 FM and WKYS 93.9 FM radio stations, and ABC 7 television positioned themselves at tables with their respective banners, handing out merchandise to fans.

District singer and musician Raheem DeVaughn performed for the fans at the stadium and encouraged everyone to buy his new album, DeVaughn’s first as an independent artist.

"All of this is new to me. I’m not used to seeing this HBCU environment," said Jesse Joseph, a 1983 Howard University School of Law graduate who hails from Nashville, Tenn. "That’s cool to me. I want to see the [HU] band, it feels like I’m coming home," said Joseph, 56.

Chimyra Powell, a Suitland, Md., resident and technical recruiter for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Northwest, said she didn’t get tickets to the game, but still enjoyed the atmosphere and opportunities to mingle with other Howard fans.

"I like the food options in addition to the live music. The free giveaways are nice and I ran into friends I didn’t know would be here," said Powell, 26. "It gives you a sense of pride to know that you can work the whole week and attend an event that’s positive."

For the Bison, the win took center stage.

During the contest, McGhee completed 21 of 27 passes, including a rocket to wide receiver Anthony Philyaw for a 20-yard touchdown play that put Howard, now 1-1 on the season, in front to stay.

The Bison defense, which registered nine sacks and one interception, held on when Morehouse, now 0-2 this year, attempted to mount a late game comeback.

"We have 10 defensive linemen rotate in, so we keep them fresh," Petty said. "Our first objective is to stop the run and get behind the sticks and from there give the defensive line a chance to get loose in the pass rush."