By MARK F. GRAY, Special to the AFRO

BOWIE STATE WINS CIAA NORTH

Bowie State put an entire season of slow starts to bed and clinched the CIAA North Division championship with a 49-7 victory over Elizabeth City State at Bulldog Stadium.  It was the third time in four years the Bulldogs earned the right to play for the elusive conference championship and only verified their place as the dominant team in the division.

Bowie State dismantled the Vikings by halftime by opening a 42-0 halftime lead and turning the second half into a block party.  The 23 members of this senior class finished a virtuoso era in their final game at Bulldog stadium with a near flawless performance.

Bowie State University’s football team beat Elizabeth City State 49-7. (Courtesy Photo)

Quarterback Amir Hall set the record for most touchdown passes in CIAA history in the second quarter when he connected with Gilbert Lunsford with a 30-yard strike to pass Winston Salem State’s Kameron Smith on the conference’s all-time list.  Hall, who had been struggling through injuries during the team’s most difficult stretch, finished the game completing 24 of 39 passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns despite watching the fourth quarter from the sidelines. His four scoring passes give him 98 for his career.

All that remains for Hall to establish himself as the unquestioned greatest player in Bowie State is to win the CIAA Championship.  He now owns every significant record in school history and ranks statistically with the all time conference greats.   The Bulldogs will be heavily favored to beat Fayetteville State next Saturday in the conference championship game in Salem, Va.

Next: CIAA Championship vs Fayetteville St.

HOWARD UPSETS FAMU KEEPING HOPE ALIVE

Facing a must win to keep any plausible hopes for a shot to play in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl alive, Howard needed to beat Florida A&M.  When the Rattlers left the bus the vision of playing in the HBCU Division I national championship game was within reach.

However, the Bison were determined not to let FAMU celebrate a conference championship game berthed on their turf and it was the maligned defense that led the way.  Howard used a mix of coverages to contain and confuse MEAC Player of the Year candidate Ryan Stanley and beat the Rattlers 31-23 which had reverberations throughout the conference race.

Stanley completed 23 of his 41 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns.  However, the Bison forced him into two critical interceptions.  The second, late in the fourth quarter, was in Howard’s end zone and would be the last time they would mount a serious threat.

Howard was efficient, but unspectacular offensively on a day where the wind was a 12th man on defense.  Caylin Newton passed for 172 yards and two scores but, it was the rushing attack that punished FAMU.  Dedrick Parson ran for 149 of their 243 yards and scored a touchdown as Howard pounded on the Rattlers which took its toll in the fourth quarter.

MORGAN ST. FALLS TO BETHUNE COOKMAN

After being ranked as the top defense in FCS (Div. I-AA) football for much of the season, Morgan State has worn down over the last two games.  The Bears couldn’t get another critical stop in the fourth quarter and fell to Bethune Cookman 30-28 at Hughes Stadium.

Morgan’s biggest dilemma was containing the Wildcats ground game.  Jimmie Robinson shredded the Bears for 208 of the team’s 314 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns for BCU.  It negated a 257 yard three TD passing performance from Morgan’s quarterback D.J. Golatt who nearly engineered a comeback.