GREENBELT – With six seconds remaining in the contest, Bowie High School’s football team was one down away from an upset. Up 21-18 against Suitland High School on Oct. 12, the Bulldogs needed a defensive stop on fourth down to seal their victory.
Suitland quarterback Damien Partee took the snap and scanned the field to find an open receiver for a long gain close to the sidelines. However, junior defensive tackle Miles Blanc escaped from his blocker and attempted a sack from behind. Partee moved forward away from Blanc but right into senior defensive tackle Spencer Marks.
“I did a spin and I lost the guard,” Marks said. “Luckily, I did not miss and (Blanc) made the quarterback step into me.”
“We knew it was going to be a pass, so we had to get the pressure there,” Blanc said. “We knew our line is better than theirs.”
Marks’ sack caused the whole Bowie sideline to erupt into jubilation as the Bulldogs earned a key victory in a quest for a playoff berth. In front of a pro-Rams crowd in Greenbelt who were celebrating Homecoming and Senior Day festivities, Bowie crashed the party to earn a three-point win, ending the Rams’ bid for an undefeated season.
Coming into the contest, Bowie, who opened the season with three consecutive victories, were looking to regroup after two lopsided losses against Dr. Henry Wise Jr. and C.H. Flowers. According to Head Coach Augustus Parrish, the focus during the week at practice was improving play on both sides of the ball to prepare for a physical Rams side.
“We knew we were coming into today against a tough team,” Parrish said. “You look at that Suitland program and when I say program, I mean a program that competes every year…we knew they were going to fight and that’s was the main thing that I drove home this week was we have to fight.”
The Bulldogs came out swinging early on both sides of the ball, forcing a three-and-out on defense while quarterback Rodney Manning found a wide-open Devan Parrish for a 21-yard touchdown. While their offensive possession ended with a missed 37-yard field goal attempt, Bowie would get the ball back right away after senior cornerback Khari Nelson’s interception in midfield.
Five plays later, Manning, who finished the first half with 117 passing yards, launched a deep throw to the end zone, finding wide receiver Vincent Vines. The senior turned his whole body around and kept his feet in-bounce for the acrobatic 25-yard touchdown to give the visitors a 14-point lead.
Partee used the remaining 3:42 before halftime to move Suitland down the field into scoring range. The senior capped off the 15-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jeashawn Champ as time expired to reduce the Rams deficit to eight points heading into halftime.
After forcing Bowie to punt to start the second half, Suitland’s Mikhi McAllister took a quick pass from Partee and turned it into a 42-yard reception for a touchdown. However, the Rams’ two-point conversion failed, keeping them down by two points.
Bowie responded with another long drive, swallowing up over seven minutes of playing time on 16 plays, before scoring on a 2-yard pass play to running back Jamal Christian to take back a 10-point lead.
Suitland attempted to fight back right away but Partee threw his second interception to linebacker Sean Prince before the end of the third quarter. With time ticking away, senior Benjamin Atyam, who filled for the injured Latrell Mccants at running back, ran in a quick 2-yard touchdown to bring the Rams within three points early in the fourth quarter.
Bowie executed a four-minute drive that resulted in no points after a missed another field goal attempt. With 3:59 remaining, the Rams tried to go down the field quickly to set up a game-winning play that never came. According to Manning, watching his teammates sack Partee in the final seconds was “an extra weight off my shoulders.”
“For the past two weeks offensively, we laid an egg,” Manning said. “Once we won, it felt like now we can go back to our regularly scheduled program.”
According to Head Coach Ed Shields, Suitland did not live up to its previously undefeated potential. They will look to bounce back against a tough Wise team on Oct. 19.
“Being unorganized, missing responsibilities, not holding each other accountable, all those little things are a part of why we could not execute when we needed to the most,” Partee said. “Effort-wise, we did everything we could.”
Following the game, Parrish praised his team in the postgame huddle for their resiliency in the final drives of the game. Being named the Homecoming team for Suitland was nerve-racking for Parrish and his players to the point where he announced their celebration next season will be against the Rams.
The message was clear: a new Bowie is competing in the 4A division.
“It is frustrating because they think that we are the old Bowie,” Blanc said. “We are here to tell them that we are not the old Bowie no more. This is a new Bowie team and a new beginning.”