Bowie wins opener for 1st time since 1988

September 04, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

BOWIE -- Their offense looked much like the group that struggled throughout last season, but at least this year the Bowie State Bulldogs don't have to wait until October to feel like winners.

That's because the Bulldogs' defense, with an assist from the special teams, controlled yesterday's season opener against Elizabeth City State. Sparked by senior safety Chris Banks' three interceptions, the Bulldogs produced six turnovers, blocked a punt to set up a touchdown, allowed only eight first downs and surrendered just 157 yards, as Bowie State earned a 13-0 victory at Bulldog Stadium.

It marked the first time that Bowie State has won a season opener since 1988, which is the last time the Bulldogs won a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association title.

Not that the Bulldogs appear ready to challenge for the CIAA crown just yet.

Their offense, after managing only 9 yards in the first quarter, moved the ball well enough to accumulate 272 yards, but repeatedly failed to finish drives. Five offensive penalties and three turnovers played a major role in that frustration.

Quarterback Darrell Foote teamed with wide receiver Mike Gordon on a 37-yard touchdown play in the second quarter, but that came after Foote twice overthrew wide-open receivers who had gotten behind the defense. Foote, who regrouped after a shaky start to complete 11 of 27 passes for 172 yards, had two passes intercepted.

The reviews from second-year Bowie State coach Sherman Wood reflected the Bulldogs' performance -- mixed.

"The defense did everything we asked them to do. They came up with the big plays," Wood said. "We moved the ball OK, but we need to finish drives. I'm still a little upset about some &L decisions that we made. Darrell Foote has to take a better leadership role.

"I feel very pleased about getting the first win, especially in our first home game. For this program, this is the biggest win we've had. I feel very good about the next few games."

The Bulldogs have not had a winning season since 1989. They are two years removed from a 1-10 season. But, since an 0-4 start last year, Bowie State is 4-2-1.

A big reason for that surge has been Banks, an All-CIAA defensive back last year and a preseason Division II All-America pick this year. Yesterday, Banks did nothing to hurt his chances for more accolades.

In the first quarter, he stopped one of Elizabeth City State's few promising drives by intercepting starting quarterback Kenny Crump's pass at the Bulldogs' 20. One quarter later, after the Vikings had replaced Crump with Shawn Walker, Banks picked off a pass at the Bulldogs' 10, then returned it 39 yards.

Then, with 8:20 left and the Bulldogs protecting a 13-0 lead, Banks stepped in front of receiver Marlon Hall at the Bowie State 25 to pick off another Walker pass.

"I've got to give all the credit to our defensive line for the pressure they put on the quarterback," said Banks, who led the Bulldogs with six interceptions last year. "The last time we won our first game, I was standing on the sidelines watching my brother [Mo] play at Bowie State."

After their first five possessions produced a lost fumble and four punts, the Bulldogs broke through with 55 seconds left in the first half. Foote, who had just overthrown a wide-open Craig Mitchell, redeemed himself when he hit Gordon to make it 6-0.

The Bulldogs' special teams set up Bowie's other touchdown. Kenley Bullard blocked a Vikings punt early in the second half, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the Vikings' 5. On the next play, Mitchell scored over the right side.

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