WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Morehouse College and Howard University football programs continue their longstanding rivalry in the fourth annual AT&T Nation’s Football Classic® at RFK Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 3:30 p.m. After three competitive matchups in the Classic, the Maroon Tigers and Bison return to the field this year ready to battle for the 2014 trophy and bragging rights.
Both squads return familiar faces as well as new players eager to participate in their first Classic. These two distinguished HBCUs have much in common on and off the field including outstanding academic programs, a litany of successful alumni and an impressive list of exciting players to watch this year.
For Howard, the Classic is the third game of their season, but it will be the game that sets the tone for Head Coach Gary Harrell and his team. As with previous matchups between the two squads, more than just the outcome of one football game is at stake.
“It is one of those unwritten rules – this game is very important,” Harrell said. “The alumni want to win and we want to win this game as well. This rivalry goes a long way. We have been successful in it, and we want to make sure we continue to uphold the standards and level of play that are going to give us a chance to win this year’s ballgame as well.”
Howard has won the teams’ first three Classic meetings, including a pair of nail-biters, 30-27 in 2011 and 30-29 in 2012. Last year, the Bison opened up a big lead and held on for a 27-16 victory as quarterback Greg McGhee threw three touchdown passes and had 296 yards of total offense. Now a senior entering his fourth season as a starter, McGhee was named the game’s MVP in 2011 and 2013. He was the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year last season and recently was named the MEAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year in voting by league coaches and sports information directors.
McGhee is looking forward to showing his stuff this season, and knows the importance of playing well against Morehouse.
“The rivalry was new to me coming into college because I didn’t know the history of it,” McGhee said. “I’ve learned so much about the rivalry and the two schools. The energy builds up every year.”
The events leading up to the game have been successful each year. The 2014 weekend, set for Thursday, Sept. 11 through Sunday, Sept. 14, features the Presidential Symposium, AT&T Kickoff Rally, Pepsi Fan Festival, Chapel Service and assorted parties and receptions.
“What happens off the field is just as important with all the events going on,” Morehouse senior running back Shelton Hamilton said. “With the fans really involved, it is the biggest game we play each year. It’s a great experience for my teammates and I. It’s more than your typical football game. It brings out two of the best HBCUs. It shows a lot of people that there is more to HBCUs than football and parties and things like that.”
Morehouse head coach Rich Freeman is appreciative of the experience his team has gained by playing in the game in its first three years. While the first two losses by a total of four points stung, Freeman knows his team has come away better on and off the field because of its participation.
“I really felt the embrace of the D.C. community,” said Freeman, whose team opens its season Sept. 6 at Edward Waters College. “People are aware of what Morehouse means. And of course, what Howard means to D.C. What both schools, respectively, mean to our country. We are very much rooted in academic tradition and excellence and have some prominent alums. We felt it when we went out to dinner. We were well received. And I saw good crowds in the three games we played.”
Tickets for this year’s Classic are $25 and $50, plus applicable fees, at ticketmaster.com, the Howard University Box Office at Cramton Auditorium and the Morehouse College Bookstore. Student tickets are available for $15 at campus locations only. Group packages are available for 20 or more by calling 202-608-1135.
For more information about the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic please visit, www.nationsfootballclassic.com.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Greg McGhee: Two-time AT&T Nation’s Football Classic MVP also was the 2013 MEAC Offensive Player of the Year and 2014 MEAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. As a junior, passed for 2,379 yards and 16 touchdowns while also rushing for 896 yards and three touchdowns last season.
RB Anthony Philyaw: Sophomore from Los Angeles will be the Bison’s featured back after rushing for 721 yards and a team-leading 15 touchdowns last season. First-team all-MEAC preseason selection.
OL Toree Boyd: Sophomore is the leader up front for the Bison, who averaged 4.5 yards per rushing attempt last season. First-team all-MEAC preseason selection.
DB Cameron Alston: Senior intercepted three passes and returned a fumble for a touchdown last season. Had team-leading 80.5 tackles. First-team all-MEAC preseason selection.
DL Clarence Christian: Senior was the Tigers’ second-leading tackler season, had a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss and tied for the team lead with three sacks. Second-team all-SIAC preseason selection.
OL Shea Martin: Senior will anchor the offensive line for the Tigers. Second-team all-SIAC preseason selection.
RB Shelton Hamilton: As a junior, returned from reconstructive knee surgery and rushed for a team-leading 478 yards and five touchdowns last season. Will be the Tigers’ top back this season.
About the AT&T Nation's Football Classic®
The AT&T Nation's Football Classic® is a black college football game held annually at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. This year, the game features Howard University against Morehouse College. Organized by Events DC, the AT&T Nation's Football Classic® was created to celebrate the passion and tradition of the college football experience, recognize the history of service to others by the students, faculty and alumni of historically black colleges and universities, highlight the unity of African American culture, and honor the heritage and excellence of these proud institutions. Tickets for the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic® are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster outlets, the Howard University Box Office at Cramton Auditorium and the Morehouse College Bookstore. Seats are priced at $25 and $50. For more information, please visit nationsfootballclassic.com.
About Events DC
Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, delivers premier event services and flexible venues across the nation’s capital. Leveraging the power of a world-class destination and creating amazing attendee experiences, Events DC generates economic and community benefits through the attraction and promotion of business, athletic, entertainment and cultural activities. Events DC oversees the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, an anchor of the District’s hospitality and tourism economy that generates over $400 million annually in total economic impact, and the historic Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square. Events DC manages the Stadium-Armory campus, which includes Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and surrounding Festival Grounds, the non-military functions of the DC Armory and Maloof Skate Park at RFK Stadium. Events DC also built and now serves as landlord for Nationals Park, the first LEED-certified major professional sports stadium in the United States. For more information, please visit www.eventsdc.com.