For the first time in school history, Bowie State will play two home games in a single Division II playoffs when they host the Newberry Wolves in the second round.
Bowie State advanced past the first round of the Division II playoffs defeating Lenoir-Rhyne 31-10.
Newberry, on the other hand, upset the reigning Division II champion and No. 3 seed West Florida 33-30 in overtime for its first playoff win since 2006.
Newberry finished the regular season with a 9-2 overall record and a conference-leading 7-1 record.
Both teams enter their second-round matchup riding long win streaks, with Newberry winning its last seven and Bowie State winning 11-straight.
Keys to Victory
One of the biggest problems Newberry had in its last outing was taking care of the ball, committing two in the third quarter each of which led to West Florida touchdowns.
It is critical that the Wolves not have a repeat performance against Bowie State as the Bulldogs led all of Division II in defensive touchdowns.
In contrast, Newberry forced three West Florida turnovers, including one key interception in the fourth quarter that they converted into a touchdown.
Against a tough defense like Bowie State’s, your best offense is a great defense and special teams. While they do, on occasion, allow big plays, putting points on the board against the Bulldogs has proven to be very difficult.
One of the key plays Newberry made in the fourth quarter of their win against West Florida was returning a blocked punt for a touchdown that began its comeback.
If Newberry can dictate field position by getting defensive stops or getting one special teams contribution, they can hang in there.
In addition, their ability to establish the run has been important to their success. In all of their wins this season, they have rushed for at least 150 yards.
Doing so against the Bulldogs will not be an easy task as the Bulldogs have only allowed 100 rushing yards just three times this season.
Bowie State put on a defensive clinic in the first-round win against Lenoir-Rhyne, holding them to a season-low 10 points and 103 rushing yards.
They forced four Lenoir-Rhyne turnovers, including an interception returned for a touchdown.
Whenever they needed a big defensive play, the Bulldogs were able to get the big stop and that will be key in them making a run at the Division II title.
However, one thing that Bowie State needs to improve on defensively is limiting big plays — which has been the one flaw.
Fortunately for Bowie State, Lenoir-Rhyne failed to connect on several wide-open plays that would have been sure fire touchdowns.
The Bulldogs will be facing a Newberry team that has scored four or more total offensive touchdowns in each of the last five games, including four-straight games scoring three or more rushing touchdowns.
On the other end, Bowie State had a big day on the ground rushing for 247 yards and three touchdowns, with quarterback Ja’rome Johnson going for a season-high 147 rushing yards.
Newberry has allowed more than 100 yards rushing in 10 of its 12 games this season, so the Bulldogs should have free reign to make as many big plays on the ground as they want.
While Bowie State proved they can handle the test of playing against an elite offense, this will be the best defense Newberry has played all season. A sharp Bowie State defense is dangerous and they are showing no signs of being anything but that. This may not be as easy as last week but they are for sure the favorites to come out victorious.
Bowie State 27-14
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