YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT!
Just in case you missed the late night upset headline – the Howard Bison of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, went to Las Vegas, and defeated the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 43-40 late Saturday night!
IT DID HAPPEN!
What’s the greatest thing in all of this? Besides the upset, besides a victory for new Howard football coach Mike London, the celebration by the Bison at Sam Boyd Stadium? A great plane ride home?
None of the above.
The greatest thing was: The point spread – 45!!
I’m sorry, did you miss that? The spread was 45! UNLV was favored to win by 45 points!!
But wait, there’s more! Howard was actually paid $600,000 for the honor of beating UNLV, according to USA Today, which reported that ‘‘Howard had to arrange for its band and cheerleaders to arrive in Las Vegas by noon the day before the game to participate in various events’’ to receive the full guarantee. The Bison had never before beaten a team in college football’s top level — now called the Bowl Subdivision. It had been more than a decade since the Bison even started a season 1-0.
‘‘It’s a very humbling experience to be a part of something that you can talk about forever,’’ London said, between responding to ‘‘a gazillion text messages’’ and also breaking down the win with his mother. (“And you know when your mom calls, you can’t get off the phone real quick,’’ the coach added.)
‘‘My players, the guys, I’m telling you, they are sky high right now in terms of confidence, in terms of belonging,’’ London went on. ‘‘We talked about how this was a business trip. This wasn’t the old typical 1-AA, it’s your money game, and we’re gonna be cannon fodder for this team. We came here to win the game, and that’s what happened.’’
Caylin Newton – whose brother just happens to be Cam Newton (Yeah, HIM!) Stated this with all the confidence in the world: “I mean coming to Howard, it’s not a football school. It will be”
Well, given Saturday’s performance, he may be onto something
Newton was speaking matter-of-factly about his decision to attend a school that had recorded just one winning football season since 2005. He hadn’t been named the school’s starter, although he was confident that moment would arrive. But Newton seemed absurdly certain that his new school — which he selected after not getting offers from any Power-5 programs — was ready to take off, and soon.
In a sentence, he was RIGHT! As well as the REASON!
Newton started the scoring with a 52-yard touchdown run to put the Bison up 7-0. After two field goals, Kyle Anthony caught a one-yard pass from Newton to extend the lead to 14-6. After another field goal, Howard’s defense added a score with a 75-yard fumble return by Devin Rollins making the score 21-9.
The Rebs roared back with two scores before the half closed then took the lead for the first time in the game as Devonte Boyd hauled in a 25 yard touchdown pass from Armani Rogers and then Charles Williams ran one in from a yard out to make the score 33-21, UNLV.
By then you would think the Rebs would run away, right? WRONG!
Anthony Philyaw scored to close the third from 3 yards out, and then opened the money period with an 11-yard run to give the Bison the lead back at 34-33 with 14:09 left. After a 3 yard run by Lexington Thomas restored the lead for the Rebels, Caylin Newton closed the scoring with a 4-yard run with 7:34 remaining.
The magic number in Vegas was 45. Unless your a member of the Bison, then it was 43. Enough to beat Vegas!
In the immortal words of the late great Mel Allen, “How About That!”