September 11, 2010
By David Driver
For the Daily Press
Used with permission
WASHINGTON — — All- MEAC defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis, who did not play in the first game of the season at Central Michigan, certainly made his presence felt here Saturday afternoon against Howard on a sun-splashed day in the nation's capital.
The Hampton redshirt senior had 14 tackles in the first three quarters as the Pirates took a 28-14 lead after being tied at half with Howard at intermission. And Ellis was surprised with his totals.
"What? I have no idea," said Ellis, when asked how he rolled up so many tackles. "I just try to do my best out there. I am kind of shocked. I didn't know I did that well."
Ellis ended up with 16 tackles, including two sacks and a fumble recovery, with scouts from five NFL teams on hand as Hampton (1-1) beat Howard (0-2), 31-21, in the MEAC opener for both teams. Hampton has now won 14 in a row against Howard and has scored at least 30 points in six of the last seven games against the Bison.
The Hampton offense was led by quarterback David Legree, who had two touchdown passes, and running back Steve Robinson, who ran 17 times for 86 yards and a score. Javaris Brown of Hampton gave the Pirates the lead for good at 21-14 early in the third quarter on a 4-yard run - his only carry of the day. "We had a good game plan coming in," Legree said. "All week we felt we could do a lot of things against them. We run a fast pace and that is what we do. We didn't need a whole bag of tricks. We just did a good job of executing."
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A transfer from South Carolina, the 330-pound Ellis missed the 33-0 loss Sept. at Central Michigan due to "personal issues," according to Hampton head coach Don Rose. But Ellis and the Hampton defense was challenged by Howard's 5-foot-8 Casey Council, a converted cornerback who made his first career start at quarterback for the run-happy Howard option offense. Council threw just one pass in a season-opening loss to Holy Cross and was not even listed as one of the top two quarterbacks on the Howard depth chart at game time.
"He was a small, elusive guy," Ellis said of Council. "He just did his job. We are used to 6-5, 6-3 quarterbacks." Council ran for 83 yards but threw just three passes before giving way to Terry Bradden in the second half.
But Ross said he was not surprised the Bison started someone other than quarterback Bradden, who did throw for 135 off the bench Saturday long after the outcome was decided. "We pretty much knew what they wanted to do," Rose said of Council, who attempted just one pass in the first half. "They are going to do something different. I didn't know who it was going to be."
"We knew 17 (Council) was a running quarterback," Ellis said. "We played the run most of the time. Football is about adjustments. We came in with a plan and before the first half they adjusted to our plays. Then we adjusted. My fellow defensive players did the job." Linebacker Darius Johnson had 11 tackles for Hampton, corner Micah Pellerin had eight and strong safety Ricardo Silva had seven, plus an interception in the second half. Howard gained 160 yards on 53 rushing tries, just 3.0 per attempt. Hampton played without standout linebacker Julio Sanchez, who did not make the trip due to an injury, according to a school spokesman.
Tied at 14 at halftime, Hampton took the second half kickoff and went 75 yards for a touchdown, as Brown ran four yards on a counter play around the left side to give the Pirates a 21-14 lead. It was the first lead in the game for Hampton.
The Pirates took a 28-14 lead late in the third quarter when Legree threw a swing pass on the left flat to Donte Davis, who went in for the score from eight yards out. Hampton made it 31-14 midway through the fourth quarter on a 36-yard field goal by freshman Rodrigo Hernandez. Howard scored on a 1-yard run by Bradden with :29 seconds left to account for the final score.
Howard took the opening kickoff on its own 35 and went 65 yards, as Council ran in from 15 yards out to give the hosts a 7-0 lead before a crowd of 7,086. Hampton, on its first drive, went 80 yards for a score as Robinson went in from one yard out. The Pirates ran off 17 plays on the drive and took 8:32 off the clock to tie the game at 7.
The Bison took a 14-7 lead with 2:46 left in the second quarter on a 2-yard run by Terrence Leffall. The score capped a 13-play drive that took 6:56 off the clock. The Pirates tied the game at 14-14 with 1:27 left in the first half as Legree connected with Dyrri McCain (Maury High), who was wide open, for a 28-yard score.
"I knew they were going to do something different," Rose said. "I knew (Bradden) was not an option quarterback. I didn't know who it was going to be." It ended up being Council, but Hampton standout Ellis was up to the challenge.