NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Bulldogs of Bowie State University held off a tough Merrimack College team on Saturday afternoon to edge the Warriors 35-32.
Merrimack capitalized on an early first quarter Bowie State fumble and Stephen Camarro booted a 21-yard field goal at the 9:30 mark to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead.
Bowie State (1-0) responded on their next possession, driving 75 yards in 10 plays as graduate student Matthew Goggans (Pine Grove, Calif.) connected with a redshirt junior Nyme Manns (Baltimore, Md.) for a 7-yard touchdown. Redshirt junior Christopher Palmer (St. Mary’s, Md.) added the extra point to give the Bulldogs a 7-3 advantage.
Merrimack (0-1) took advantage of a Bowie State punting miscue with 12:04 left in the third quarter. The Warriors found the Bulldogs end zone via a Stephen Capobianco to Jere Brown 6-yard pass and catch. Camarro added the extra point, shifting the advantage back over to the home team at 10-7.
Goggans burned the Merrimack defense at the 9:46 mark of the third quarter following a 58-yard bomb to senior Garry Cropper (Odenton, Md.) that resulted in a touchdown. Palmer’s extra point put Bowie State back in front 14-10.
The Warriors regained the lead at the 1:34 mark of the third quarter via another Capobianco to Brown pass and catch, making the score 17-14.
Manns scored his second touchdown of the afternoon, this time from a 36-yard score, shifting the advantage back over to Bowie State at 21-17 with 43 seconds remaining in the third.
Bowie State senior Brian Hall (Capitol Heights, Md.) intercepted his first pass of the season early in the final period, setting up the Bulldogs at the Merrimack 26 yard line. Back-to-back runs by Goggans for a combined 14 yards, extended the visitors lead to 28-17.
Merrimack was not fazed, when Capobianco connected with Cody Demers for a 6-yard score. The Warriors’ two-point conversion was good, trimming the Bowie State lead to 28-25. With just under 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs defense extended the Bowie State lead to 35-25 following a 60-yard interception return by redshirt sophomore Rahman Kamara (Bowie, Md.) with 9:47 left to play.
On Merrimack’s next possession, Adriell Mayes bolted up the middle for a 36-yard score and the extra point cut the Bowie State lead down to 35-32 with eight minutes remaining in the game.
Bowie State’s defense stepped up big again, this time Hall picked off his second pass of the game and returned it to the Merrimack 31 yard line, dashing the hopes of the Warriors.
The Bulldogs outgained the Warriors 427 yards to 331 yards on the afternoon,
Offensively, Bowie State was led in rushing by graduate student Kendall Jefferson (Temple Hills, Md.) who finished with 17 carries for 42 yards, while Goggans had six carries for 31 yards.
Goggans finished 23-of-42 with no interception for 313 yards and three touchdowns.
Cropper had six catches to lead the Bulldogs in receiving, racking up a career-best 123 yards on those receptions. Manns added a team-high eight catches for 91 yards, and sophomore Kerrick Pollock (Miami, Fla.) along with redshirt junior Jordan Garrison had four and two catches respectively. Pollock finished with 67 receiving yards while Garrison added 22 yards.
Defensively, the Bulldogs were led by senior Curtis Pumphrey (Laurel, Md.), who finished with a game-high nine tackles, including one tackle for a loss and three pass breakups. Junior Kevaugn Townsend (Fort Washington, Md.) and redshirt senior Marquise Anderson (Washington, D.C.) ended the non-conference contest with eight and six tackles respectively. Hall and redshirt freshman Kyle Jackson (Upper Marlboro, Md.) tallied a half dozen tackles each for Bowie State.
Palmer finished the afternoon with a 40.0 yards per punt average on six punts, with a long of 55 yards.
“We did some good things offensively in terms of total yards, especially our passing game and our defense made some huge plays at crucial times”, said Bowie State head coach, Damon Wilson.
“We’re thankful for the win, but we still have to improve our running game and work on not giving up almost 30 points in the second half or any half for that matter,” Wilson said.
Capobianco completed 22-of-44 passes for 197 yards to pace Marrimack’s offense, but was intercepted three times and sacked three times. Brown recorded a game-high 11 receptions (96 yards) and Cody Demers tallied three receptions for 55 yards for the Warriors.
Bowie State University will continue its early season road campaign, with their next stop at Brevard (N.C.) College. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
Courtesy: Bowie State Athletics