BOWIE – Eleanor Roosevelt High School was only 12 minutes away from pulling off perhaps the biggest upset of the football season, but Bowie High School’s special tandem showed up just in time.
Quarterback Rodney Manning lobbed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to wide receiver Vincent Vines, the first on the first drive of the quarter and the other just past the midway point of the fourth, to lead Bowie to a first-round victory in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 4A state playoffs, 14-7, over Roosevelt at home on Nov. 8.
Up 7-0 entering the fourth quarter, the Raiders were on a mission to redeem themselves from a close regular-season finale loss to Bowie, 22-20, on Nov. 1. However, Manning and Vines – along with the Bulldogs’ defense – did not allow the upset to happen on their home turf.
“In the second half, I talked to the (offensive) line. I said ‘Aye, leave everything you have on the field.’ I said, ‘at the end of this game, go home and make sure you have no regrets.’ And that’s what we did,” said Manning, a 6-foot-1 junior who finished the evening 14 of 21 for 167 yards and two touchdowns. “Vincent made a couple of big plays, a couple of improvised plays, and that’s how we did it.”
The Bulldogs saw a similar defensive alignment that Roosevelt used a week before the rematch, Manning added, but simply got off to a cold start offensively.
Roosevelt opened the evening with its only touchdown in the game coming late in the first after forcing a Bowie turnover in the end zone. Wide receiver Devan Parrish got to the goal line but lost the ball to give the Raiders possession.
Quarterback Deon Rush took the snap at the 20-yard line and sped down the field 79 yards before being taken down at the 1. On the next play, Matthew Wilson ran in for the one-yard score to put the Raiders up 7-0.
The score remained 7-0 for the entire second and third quarters as both teams were plagued by turnovers. Bowie and Roosevelt combined for a whopping nine turnovers, resulting from interceptions, fumbles and penalties that kept the score low all evening.
Manning closed the third quarter with a 28-yard bullet to Bryce Wheeler to put the Bulldogs in scoring position heading into the fourth. After an incompletion, Manning’s six-yard pass to Vines tied the game 7-7. Though Manning threw a pick to safety Kathir Muhammad two drives later, Rush threw an interception to Parrish, which set up Bowie’s game-winning touchdown: a 26-yard throw from Manning to Vines with 5:44 left.
With about 1:30 remaining, the Raiders had one last chance to respond. However, during a punt, not only was Roosevelt assessed with an illegal fair catch, but was charged with roughing the kicker which gave Bowie the ball back and sealed the game.
According to Head Coach Augustus Parrish, Bowie has not won a playoff game since winning the 4A state title in 2001. The last time the Bulldogs made a playoff appearance was in 2015. Accordingly, he was happy to lead his team to its first postseason win in nearly two decades.
“I think as the game went on, our guys kind of understood and really just locked in, and said ‘hey, let’s just do what we’re coached to do and play our game,’ and that’s pretty much what we did,” Parrish said after the win.
Vines and Manning have tag-teamed to make game-changing plays all year. The connection between the two dates back to the offseason.
“Vincent is one of my guys. We’ve been working on plays like the roll out all offseason. We’re always on the same page,” Manning said. “No matter if the pressure breaks down or if the pocket breaks down and nobody’s open, I know I can just roll right and Vincent is going to be there.”
Vines, a 6-foot-1 senior receiver, recorded nine receptions for 167 yards and two touchdowns to help the Bulldogs improve to 8-2 on the year.
Rush said the late-game mental errors ultimately cost the Raiders but remained optimistic nonetheless as he pointed out a few positive takeaways from the season-ending loss.
“I’m not even that sad, to be honest… because this team is a young team – majority sophomores, freshmen, juniors, we had like seven seniors,” Rush said. “So this is actually a plus for us because next year we’re coming back harder, we’re coming back stronger.”
The junior finished with two interceptions and tallied 113 yards on nine rushes, and said he will continue working out and prepare for track and field as he heads to the offseason.
Likewise, Roosevelt Head Coach Thomas Green said the costly mistakes such as “immature plays” and the “undisciplined plays” had the greatest effect on the outcome of the game.
Though the Raiders forced turnovers, they would turn the ball right back over which put them in bad field position at times.
“We’ll just go back to the drawing board and start over, and hopefully we have a better outcome next year,” Green said. “We’re young. We just gotta work harder and be tougher, and as coaches, we gotta look through the people that don’t want to be here and get them on their way, and just make sure we have a group of kids that want to be Raiders.”
Next, Bowie will play at Charles H. Flowers, hoping to avenge their 16-0 loss on Oct. 4. The Bulldogs and Jaguars will square off in the rematch on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.