In the battle of the HUs, Hampton prevailed on the field
The sights, sounds and smells from tailgating made everyone a winner
The Howard Bison and Hampton Pirates convened on Saturday afternoon at RFK Stadium in Northeast Washington, D.C., for their annual football rendezvous, the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic.
The smell of barbecue sneaked through the holes in the smoker and permeated the air. And, of course, if your sense of smell wasn’t picking up on the delectable food being prepared, you certainly heard the bass on both the oldies and new-school tunes blaring through the various speakers in the RFK Stadium parking lots.
The excitement of seeing classmates and friends, past and present, was palpable and infectious. Both Hampton and Howard folks were more than happy to boast to me about why their HU is the real one. A lot said their school was the real HU because of academics, the networks or the athletics. Others gave explanations based on more practical reasons, such as when the school was founded or the name of the school when it was founded.
But on a collective level, the excitement began when members of the Howard football team raised their fists during the playing of the national anthem. The Howard cheerleaders also knelt during the anthem. The stadium got a little louder when the first points of the game and the only points of the half were put on the board.
Hampton’s Eric Carter Jr. did the honors with a 1-yard rush into the teeth of the Howard defense on a fourth-and-1. The drive started off in the worst possible way, with Hampton’s quarterback being strip-sacked in the shadow of Hampton’s end zone, and an offensive lineman salvaging the possession. But then Jaylian Williamson found Jack Willenbrock all by his lonesome, hit him in stride, and Willenbrock just ran out of juice toward the end because he was brought down inside the Bison 5-yard line.
Despite guest appearances from Washington Wizards guard John Wall and former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis, there was only one performance that could rouse the crowd: the halftime show.
Hampton’s band and dance team performed first, and they swayed, body-rolled and coolly jammed during their portion of the halftime show. Howard’s band wanted to really get the people going, and by the end of the Bison’s performance they even had members of the media cheering in the press box. The Bison band and dance team gyrated, grooved and hit viewers with their snazzy dance moves and big beats.
The party was on and popping at that point, but mostly for Hampton and its fans as the Pirates came out of halftime scoring 24 consecutive points in the third quarter. Howard had its opportunities to get on the board, but penalties and negative plays killed good-looking drives. Anthony Prevost put the team up by double digits with his 31-yard field goal, and then Bruce Perry returned a blocked punt 27 yards to make it 17-0 Hampton.
Brandon Cox rushed in from the 2-yard line and Yahkee Johnson finished the third quarter going untouched on a screen play that he took 29 yards to the end zone to give Hampton a 31-0 lead. Prevost added to his stat line with a 41-yard field goal in the middle of the fourth quarter.
The Bison’s only score of the game came on a toss play to Anthony Philyaw, who had to break three tackles before seeing any daylight to the end zone.
While folks can go back and forth about the age-old question of who is the real HU, as far as who it is on the football field, well, this year it was Hampton, which won easily in a 34-7 trouncing.