Morgan State quarterback Moses Skillon was still in his uniform about 15 minutes after he and the Bears held on to beat Howard 21-13 in Saturday’s Chicago Football Classic. Skillon had thrown two touchdown passes to help the Bears beat their nearby rival, win their conference opener and give them a good start in defending their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.
Though that wasn’t far from his mind, Skillon also knew the importance of Saturday’s game for other reasons.
“This game mattered a lot more than football,” Skillon said. “There’s a lot of stuff that happens in this city in Chicago and we just wanted to come out here and put out a good show for the people who go to school and don’t play football and just come out and have a good time.”
Both Baltimore-based Morgan State and Washington D.C.’s Howard are historically black universities, and the CFC tries to encourage area youngsters to continue their education as long as possible and attend HBCUs. There was a college fair and battle of high school bands before the game, not to mention a duel between the bands of Morgan State and Howard that kept most of the fans in their seats during halftime.
As Skillon acknowledged, he would be looked at as a role model when he stepped on the turf at Soldier Field. He knows he’s an example of continuing his education at an HBCU, and as a quarterback would be a central figure in the game.
It’s something he took seriously even though his school is located a time zone away.
“It means a lot. There was a couple kids that asked for a handshake when I came out after halftime,” Skillon said. “I gave them a handshake, whatever I can do to help them to motivate them so they can get to where I’m at.
“I’m worried about the next person and the next generation coming up,” he added. “That was just a nice feeling. Chicago welcomed us and we were happy to be here.”
Saturday’s game also exposed area students to colleges they might not think about too often. They saw the pageantry of the bands and a football game that wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter, provided by schools that aren’t always top of mind in this area.
“It does mean a lot, especially with the number of young people that you see here. Elementary school students that have never seen… there are no historically black colleges in Chicago,” said Dr. Charles D. Fletcher Jr., the Morgan State alumni president.
“So to bring these schools from the east and from down in the south up here so this city can see them is a significant event also.”
Sherri Quinones, a career counselor at Richards Career Academy, said days like Saturday can be a good selling point for students interested in HBCUs.
“It’s really significant,” Quinones said.