By Mark F. Gray
Special to the AFRO
For nearly two years Bowie State had been waiting to defend their back to back CIAA Football Championships thanks to the pandemic. The Bulldogs weren’t flawless, but they were efficient in winning the title by completing an undefeated conference championship season with a 17-7 win over Fayetteville State to win their third consecutive CIAA title in Salem, VA.
The Bulldogs will face Lenoir Rhyne at Bulldog Stadium Saturday afternoon at 1pm in Bowie as they host a NCAA Playoff game for the second consecutive year that a full season was played. Last year there was no CIAA intercollegiate athletic competition. This was also the third straight time that Fayetteville State has fallen to Bowie State in the CIAA Championship Game.
Bowie State is just the fifth school in history to three-peat and just the second school remaining to do so within the CIAA. This was the crescendo in an era of unprecedented excellence in school history. For a program that can’t recruit athletes from outside the DMV because of the cost for out-of-state students, the Bulldogs, under coach Damon Wilson, continue to shine.
“Bowie State is no longer a secret anymore,” said coach Damon Wilson. “We aren’t an afterthought anymore, we are now a destination for student-athletes from the area and now they are seeking us out.”
From the outset it was clear that this year’s Bulldogs, many of whom only know championship success, were the more poised team. In their championship moment BSU made enough plays to claim the trophy. While the performance wasn’t spectacular, it was efficient enough to bring the Bob Moorman Trophy back to Prince George’s County.
Senior running back Calil Wilkins was named Most Valuable Player after rushing for 163-yards. Senior quarterback Ja’rome Johnson completed seven passes for only 99-yards with two touchdowns. Receivers Victor Olayinka and redshirt sophomore Quron Winder each caught a touchdown pass.
Defensively, graduate senior Myles Wolfolk terrorized the Broncos and finished with a season-high 11 tackles, while forcing a fumble. Redshirt sophomore Jonathan Ross added 10 tackles and two sacks.
Bowie State started fast and quickly set the tone for the game on the game’s first offensive series. By the end of the opening period, they had served notice with a four-play 68-yard drive that concluded with a 10-yard reception touchdown from Johnson to Winder.
BSU scored again with under 50 seconds left in the first quarter. Johnson connected with Olayinka for a nine-yard reception score that gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter, which for all intents and purposes, was game, set, match.
The Broncos put themselves in a potential rally when Braxton Knotts scored on a 26-yard reception to cut the Bulldogs lead 14-7 heading into the fourth quarter. However, Fayetteville State couldn’t get any closer.
From the beginning of the season, it was clear that Bowie State was built for more than just winning a CIAA Championship. The Bulldogs play fast and physically offensively and defensively. They have been the standard bearer in the conference for the length of an entire freshman class.
All that remains is to take advantage of the home seeding and ride that momentum into a deep run in the playoffs.
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