BOWIE — To begin its conference schedule on a good note, the Bowie State University football team amassed 526 total yards of offense and forced five turnovers to decimate Saint Augustine’s University, 54-6, at Bulldogs Stadium on Sept. 28.
In his first career start, quarterback Ja’rome Johnson completed 19 of 29 passes for 307 yards and three passing touchdowns to go with 11 carries for 34 yards and two rushing touchdowns, lifting the Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0 CIAA) to the blowout win in their Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) opener.
After defensive back Tevin Singleton got an interception on Saint Augustine’s opening drive, Bowie marched 67 yards down the field on its first drive, culminating with a 16-yard pass from Johnson to Victor Olayinka to make the score 7-0 at the 10:30 mark in the first quarter.
The defensive play by Singleton and the following scoring play would be indicators of how the rest of the afternoon would go.
On the Bulldogs’ following drive, Johnson threw another 16-yard pass to DuShon David with 7:35 left in the quarter to put the Bulldogs up 14-0 entering the second quarter.
Gene Carson missed a field goal from 51 yards out at the top of the second quarter, but the Bulldogs quickly made up for the blunder. The Bowie State defense continued to limit Saint Augustine’s offense as Johnson added two rushing touchdowns in the quarter – on a two-yard carry and a 19-yard carry – to give Bowie the 28-0 advantage at halftime.
Head Coach Coach Damon Wilson was content with how his guys executed aside from the minor mistakes and penalties.
“I think the guys played well. We still got some penalties that we want to get rid of,” Wilson said. “We had two touchdowns called back because of holding penalties so we want to eliminate those and put a whole game together.”
Though he is second-in-command behind Gaston Cooper, Johnson has already seen a substantial amount of time on the field this season. Wilson was pleased with how the 6-foot-1 junior stepped up and put on an impressive outing.
“We got two quarterbacks that we feel can lead us to a championship. It was Ja’rome’s day today,” he said. “Ja’rome took advantage of his opportunities and we’re glad to get the W today.”
The offensive onslaught continued in the third quarter as the Bulldogs scored on a safety and three more touchdowns: Johnson once again connected with David on a seven-yard pass and lobbed a 36-yard pass to Dante Waugh. The highlight of the day might have come on an explosive 50-yard touchdown rush by running back Elisha McDonald to help Bowie State take a 51-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, third-string quarterback Dajuan Rollins checked in and went 2-for-3 for 11 yards. Carson nailed a 24-yard field goal with about four minutes remaining to conclude Bowie State’s offensive outburst.
David, who was named Food Lion receiver of the week (Sept. 23-29) by the CIAA, contributed with seven catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Likewise, Johnson was named the conference’s quarterback of the week.
“We’re starting conference play so all the wins right here matter,” said Johnson after his first career start in place of Cooper, who sat out from a sore left ankle. “We just wanted to win (and) play as a team. We had a game plan to go out and play together so we did.”
Saint Augustine’s lone scoring play came with 48 seconds remaining in the game when D’Ontre Gilliard completed a 50-yard pass to E’Kwon White. Gilliard finished the afternoon 11-for-22 with 125 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The Falcons (0-4, 0-1) are still winless on the season after being held to 186 yards of total offense and allowing an average of about 50 points over their first four games.
“I saw some good things, I saw some things that we need to work on; as a coaching staff, we will get that together. We will fix it,” said SAU interim head coach Okesa Smith.
“We’re just going to watch (the) film, and while we watch film we’re going to see what corrections that need to be made and we’ll go from there. We’ll work on those corrections during practice and hopefully that will help us out for next week.”
In the AFCA’s latest poll, Bowie has ascended to No. 20. The Bulldogs will travel south to Winston-Salem, N.C., to take on Winston-Salem State on Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. as they hope to remain perfect on the year.