Story and photo courtesy of Bowie State Athletics
BOWIE, Md. - After Assumption edged ahead by a 20-17 margin with 33.8 seconds remaining, Bowie State scored on a 16-yard touchdown pass from redshirt sophomore Jared Johnston to senior Douglas McNeil with 5.7 seconds left to rally for a 24-20 win over the Hounds on Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams.
“The guys persevered and battled back from 14 points down with a new quarterback and I feel pretty good about this win”, said Bowie State head coach Damon Wilson.
On the first Bowie State possession of the game, senior Sonny Dillinger (Naples, Fla./St. John Neumann) recovered a fumble at the 17-yard line and set the Hounds up in great field position. Assumption made the Bulldogs play on the next play as junior Bobby Jordan (Cromwell, Conn./Cromwell) found senior tight end Sean Daigle (Auburn, Maine/Edward Little) for the 17-yard touchdown and the early 7-0 lead with 11:57 left in the first.
The Hounds added to that lead almost eight minutes later as senior Nick Bolio (Charlton, Mass./Shepherd Hill) capped off an 11-play, 64-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown and the 14-0 advantage. The Bulldogs cut that advantage in half with 1:59 left in the second quarter as Johnston found senior Reginald McIntyre in the left corner of the end zone from 22 yards out. On the ensuing kickoff, Assumption's Darius Daniels (Clearwater, Fla./Tarpon) returned the kick from inside the end zone for what appeared to be a 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown. That play negated by a holding penalty however and the game went into the half at 14-7. The Hounds had six penalties for 112 in the opening half.
The Bulldogs tied the game on the opening drive of the second half, tying the score on a one-yard touchdown lob to McNeil with 10:39 left in the third. The drive was kept alive by yet another Assumption penalty after the Hounds stopped the Bulldogs on a third down and goal play.
On third down and pinned deep in their own territory, Johnston fumbled the ball at the two yard line, but was able to pick the ball up and run down the far sideline for the first down. That kept the drive alive and the Bulldogs later made it first and goal from the six yard line after a 49-yard pass over the top to McNeil. A trio of Bulldog penalties backed them up to the 21-yard line on second down and after coming up empty on third and goal, redshirt sophomore Mario Diaz-Aviles converted a 37-yard field goal to put the Bulldogs out in front by a 17-14 margin with 1:54 left in the game.
Assumption (0-1) weren't done though and with 33.8 seconds left, junior tight end Scott Simonson (Red Bank, N.J./Middletown South) scored on a 31-yard touchdown catch just inside the pylon to put Assumption in front 20-17. After a missed PAT, the Bulldogs got the ball back at their own 35-yard line.
After a 19-yard pass completion and a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty, the Hounds' 16th penalty of the game, Johnston found McNeil in the end zone with 5.7seconds left for the game-winning score.
Pedone was the leading rusher for the Hounds with 56 yards, while Jordan completed 16-of-27 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Simonson finished the game with six catches for 77 yards and one touchdown.
Johnston led the Bowie State offensive attack with 274 passing yards (16-33-0) and three touchdowns. Seven of Johnston's completions were to McNeil for 144 yards. Freshman Jamal Chappell had three receptions (20 yards) and McIntyre caught two passes for 62 yards.
“Jared gave Doug and other guys an opportunity to make a play, and those guys answered the bell today' said Wilson.
Bowie State (1-0) didn't have much success running the ball, but redshirt sophomore Keith Brown did manage 23 yards on 12 carries. Defensively, redshirt freshman Curtis Pumphrey and senior Bekwele Amadi tallied eight total tackles each to pace the Bulldogs. Redshirt freshman Antoine Young and redshirt sophomore Anthony Kees added seven tackles each for BSU and sophomore Eric Walters wrapped up the game with a half dozen tackles.
Bowie State University will have little time to rest, returning to action on Thursday (September 6) on the road at Benedict College. Kickoff for this nationally televised (CBS College Sports Network) game is set for 8 p.m.