WASHINGTON, D.C. – Freshman quarterback Caylin Newton's 2-yard touchdown run with five seconds remaining capped a 10-point fourth-quarter Howard rally as the Bison escaped Greene Stadium with a 28-24 win over Norfolk State on Saturday afternoon. The Bison (7-3, 6-1) trailed 24-14 entering the fourth period, but scored touchdowns on their final two drives to turn back the Spartans (3-7, 3-4), who lost their third straight.
NSU appeared ready to add to its 10-point lead early in the fourth when backup quarterback Tripp Harrington was intercepted in the end zone by Bryan Cook, the Bison defensive back's second interception of the day. Howard responded with a nine-play, 90-yard drive. Anthony Philyaw, who finished with 193 rushing yards, ripped off a 59-yarder to get the drive going, and Dezmond Wortham capped it with a 3-yard run. Dakota Lebofsky's PAT brought Howard within 24-21 with 8:06 remaining.
The Spartans picked up a pair of first downs on the following drive, but ended up punting to Howard with four minutes to play. Newton then led the Bison on a 12-play, 89-yard game-winning drive. He carried six times on the drive, scoring the winning touchdown with five seconds left. The Spartans attempted several laterals on the ensuing kickoff, but Howard recovered an errant lateral to end the game.
Howard scored the game's first points following a turnover. The Bison's Devin Rollins recovered a fumble at the NSU 27 on the Spartans' first drive of the game. Four plays later, Philyaw scored on a 7-yard touchdown run at the 10:20 mark of the first quarter.
But NSU controlled much of the first half from that point on. The Spartans tied the score on a 19-yard TD pass from Juwan Carter to tight end Demetreus Ferebee, the redshirt senior's first career score. Following a Howard punt, Spartan running back Aaron Savage went to work, carrying four times for 44 yards on the next possession. His 5-yard TD run – also the first of his career – put the Spartans ahead 14-7 with 1:57 left in the first quarter.
The Spartans extended their lead to 21-7 when Carter finished off a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard run with 5:21 left in the half. Howard cut the lead to 21-14 three minutes later on Philyaw's second rushing TD of the day, a 3-yarder. But Josh Nardone sent NSU into the half with a 24-14 lead thanks to a 37-yard field goal with 15 seconds left before the intermission.
The Spartans moved the ball in the third quarter as well, but turned the ball over twice on downs in a scoreless period. They reached the Howard 10 early in the fourth before Cook's interception gave the Bison life. NSU gained a season-high 403 yards of offense thanks to big days by Savage and Carter. Savage set new career highs with 23 rushes for 112 yards, his first career 100-yard game and NSU's first since the final game of 2016 (Gerard Johnson, 100 at Hampton). That was part of a season-high 146 rushing yards for the Spartans.
Carter completed 18 of 31 passes for 257 yards, his second-highest total of the season. He passed for one touchdown and ran for another. Marcus Taylor (eight catches) and Isaiah Winstead (four) both finished with 57 receiving yards while Justin Smith had 62 on one long grab in the third quarter.
For Howard, Philyaw rushed 20 times for 193 yards and two scores. Newton passed for 159 yards and was held to 46 rushing yards on 18 carries by the Spartans. Still, Howard held a 476-403 edge in total offense. Anthony Smith led NSU with 14 tackles, two for loss, and one interception. Nigel Chavis had eight tackles and two of the Spartans' three sacks.