VALDOSTA, Ga. —The Bowie State University football team fell short during its postseason run against No. 1 Valdosta State after allowing 549 total yards of offense to spark a surge in the second half which put the Bulldogs away, 66-16, at Bazmore-Hyder Stadium on Nov. 24.
Quarterback Rogan Wells with running backs Jamar Thompkins and Seth McGill rushed for a combined 180 yards and scored touchdowns each to lead the Blazers (11-0) to the obliterating win.
The Bulldogs (10-3) led 10-0 at the top of the second quarter after quarterback Amir Hall threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to running back Maurice Williams and kicker Gene Carson nailed a field goal from 32 yards out.
On the next drive, Valdosta State answered with a touchdown on a 15-yard run by Thompkins to make it 10-7. When Bowie took back over, Hall threw an interception to Stephen Denmark, who ran it 28-yard return for another touchdown to extend the Blazers’ lead to 14-10 in the second quarter.
From there, things only got better for Valdosta, and worse for Bowie.
After a three-yard score by Wells, Bowie State scored as Hall connected with Lansana Sesay for a 72-yard touchdown pass to trim their deficit to 21-16 at the half. Hall finished throwing 20-for-36 for 287 yards with two touchdowns but also record an interception and was sacked four times. Receivers Montez Clay and Sesay recorded 92 reception yards apiece on 10 catches combined.
Bowie Head Coach Damon Wilson said a win was obtainable for the Bulldogs, but poor play by special teams along with various other defensive errors was to blame for the loss.
“We knew we had a chance to play with this team. We could win the ball game. It was a winnable game for us,” Wilson said. “I think we played well the first half. We didn’t take advantage of some opportunities, we had some miscues on special teams and to win a game against a very good team, we have to take advantage of those opportunities.”
In the second half, the Blazers had its way offensively, scoring two touchdowns on the ground to go with four passing touchdowns and a field goal en route to accruing more than 300 yards of offense in the second half to sail to the second round Division II playoff win at home.
The Blazers’ defensive unit held their ground, forcing multiple Bowie three-and-out drives, virtually shutting down the Bulldog offense altogether.
Defensive end Derrick Tate led the way with 12 tackles for the Bulldogs and linebacker Kyle Jackson pitched in with eight tackles.
Hall, who will likely play professionally next year, ends his career at Bowie with numerous accolades, records and accomplishments that point him in the direction of going down as a possible all-time CIAA great.
Bowie did not “execute at a high level the second half” in the season-ending loss, Hall said but this season was one to remember and cherishes the moments he had with his teammates.
“Some of the bright spots for me was coming into the season focusing on winning the conference championship. That was the main goal, and then taking that next step and winning that national championship,” Hall said. “We came a little short today, but the real bright spot for me was going out there competing with my teammates everyday through the ups and downs.”
VSU will face No. 3 Lenoir-Rhyne on Dec. 1 in the next round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Bowie’s 2018 season concluded with the most wins in program history, its first CIAA championship and its first playoff win in program history. Despite the tough loss, Wilson expressed optimism as he and his staff prepares to bounce back next season.
“For me, as a head football coach at my alma mater, it’s great to win a conference championship. It’s great to win a first NCAA playoff game, which means we’re headed in the right direction,” Wilson said. “Like I said, we have a lot of to do. We have a lot of things we need to get done internally to continue to move this program forward, but I can’t be more proud of [my] guys.”