Bowie State Football
Photo: Bowie State Athletics

For the fourth straight year, Bowie State Bulldogs will host a Division II playoff game as they welcome Lenoir-Rhyne.

Bowie State enters this game with a 10-game win streak against Division II opponents, with its last loss coming in the 2019 Division II playoffs against Carson-Newman.

Meanwhile, Lenoir-Rhyne enters this game with an 8-2 overall record and a 6-2 record in the South Atlantic Conference (SAC).

The Bears finished second in their conference behind Newberry who will play in the playoffs as the No. 6 seed facing West Florida in the first round. Lenoir-Rhyne ended the season on a six-game win streak.

Keys to Victory

For Bowie State …

The biggest strength of Bowie State this season has been their defense, specifically its run defense.

The Bulldogs allowed just five rushing touchdowns in Division II play and nine total in the season, as well as allowing just 91.4 rushing yards per game.

Bowie State’s run defense is led by their duo of defensive linemen Joshua Pryor and Jonathan Ross who were each named to All-CIAA teams. Joseph Murray was named to the All-CIAA Rookie team.

No team in the country scored more defensive touchdowns than the Bulldogs. They were also sixth in the country in total sacks with 261.

Meanwhile, they also have a good run offense led by running back Calil Wilkins who ranked in the top 20 in Division II with 1,106 rushing yards.

Not to mention they have a quarterback in Ja’Rome Johnson who is able to make plays with his arm and his legs, accounting for 26 total touchdowns.

For Lenoir-Rhyne …

In contrast to Bowie State, Lenoir-Rhyne also had one of the top rushing offenses in the country led by SAC Offensive Player of the Year and Offensive Freshman of the Year Dwayne McGee.

McGee ranked third in Division II with 1,597 rushing yards, fourth with 159.7 rushing yards per game and fourth with 19 rushing touchdowns.

Along with McGee, Lenoir-Rhyne’s offense is just as potent with All-SAC quarterback Grayson Willingham and wide receiver duo Deondre Lester and Dareke Young, both SAC second-team selections.

Lenoir-Rhyne takes care of the ball very well, only committing 12 turnovers during the season.

The Bears are also solid on defense led by the SAC Defensive Player of the Year Amari Houston who finished the season with 46 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He is paired on the defensive line with fellow All-SAC first-team selection Dan Louba.

Prediction

If history is any indication, Lenoir-Rhyne should be the favorite seeing as they have advanced to the semifinal round in each of their last two playoff appearances. However, Bowie State has what might just be its best defense in school history. They are primed for a deep run in the Division II playoff run and it begins with this one.

Bowie State 27-24



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