It was Senior Day at Morehouse on Saturday, but it was a pair of juniors who had big offensive performances in the Maroon Tigers’ 40-39 victory over Atlanta University Center-neighbor Clark Atlanta.
Junior quarterback Michael Sims had 275 yards passing and two touchdowns and junior running back Santo Dunn added 116 yards and a touchdown for Morehouse, which finished the season with a 4-6 record. Morehouse recognized its 16 seniors pregame and also held a moment of silence for Alexis Crawford, the missing Clark Atlanta student who was found dead Friday after a week-long search.
Senior Tremell Gooden closed his Morehouse career in a big way, with seven catches for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Gooden turned a short catch from Sims into an 80-yard touchdown in the first and added a 23-yard score in the second quarter.
“It’s been an emotional week for us, counting down to what we all knew would be our last game,” Gooden said. “But we knew we had to pull together and play as a team all the way to the end.”
But for all of the points scored in the game, the outcome wasn’t finally secured until Clark Atlanta was flagged for too many players on the field with Morehouse facing fourth-and-1 with less than a minute and a half remaining.
“We knew it would be a tough game, it’s like that with Clark every year,” Morehouse coach Rich Freeman said.
Clark Atlanta, which ended its season at 0-10, took the early lead by turning an interception of Sims by Joseph Culpepper into an eight-play, 59-yard scoring drive. The Panthers passed on seven of the eight plays and scored on 7-yard pass from Charles Stafford to Johnathan Sanders in the left corner of the end zone.
Morehouse scored on its next possession, an 11-play, 71-yard drive that tied the score at 7-7. After ending the first drive with an interception, the Maroon Tigers stayed on the ground throughout their scoring drive.
Dunn had 58 yards on the drive, including a key 27-yard pickup on fourth-and-3 and the 4-yard score after recovering the snap bobbled by quarterback Sims.
Clark Atlanta responded with a drive which ended with a 20-yard Fernando Lobo field goal, but Morehouse regained the lead - this time through the air - on the Sims-to-Gooden TD connection.
Stafford had 325 yards and five touchdowns, three to Sanders. Morehouse’s Dedrick Vanover was beaten on a pair of the Stafford-to-Sanders TD passes, but bounced back with a pair of interception of Sims in the second half.
“We knew coming in (Clark Atlanta) had a great offense and we would have to play well to win,” Freeman said. “And we stepped out when we needed to. We have a resilient group and even though this season didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, we were able to close it out the right way, and I’m proud of that.”
Clark Atlanta 17 - 7 - 7 - 8 - 39
Morehouse 15 - 15 - 3 - 7 - 40
Clark Atlanta -- Johnathan Sanders 7 yard TD pass from Charles Stafford (Fernando Lobo kick)
Morehouse -- Santo Dunn 4 yard run (Fernando Delamora kick)
Clark Atlanta -- Fernando Lobo 20 yard field goal
Morehouse -- Tremell Gooden 80 yard TD pass from Michael Sims (Ricci Nuckles conversion)
Clark Atlanta -- Drakar Jerry 5 yard pass from Stafford (Lobo kick)
Morehouse -- Frank Bailey 4 yard run (Sims conversion to Tyler Lumpkin)
Clark Atlanta -- Sanders 7 yard TD pass from Stafford (Lobo kick)
Morehouse -- Gooden 23 yard TD pass from Sims (Delamora kick)
Morehouse - Delamora 26 yard field goal
Clark Atlanta - Kendell Wimberly 18 yard TD pass from Stafford (Lobo kick)
Morehouse - Sims 4 yard run (Delamora kick)
Clark Atlanta -- Sanders 2 yard TD pass from Stafford (Stafford conversion to Corey King)
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