On a day when the run game was stymied, Bowie State parlayed its passing game and some tough defense into a 13-10 win over Newberry in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs at Bulldogs Stadium.
As a result, the 10th-ranked Bulldogs (12-1) will now face the No. 1 seed, Valdosta State (10-1) for the Super Region 2 title game on Dec. 4 in Valdosta, Ga., at the Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. Game time is slated for 1 p.m.
The game was tightly contested with both teams’ defenses dominating play. The teams went into the locker room scoreless. Both teams opened the second half with three-and-outs before Newberry capitalized on a Bulldogs fumble to score the game’s first TD midway through the third quarter.
Five plays later, Newberry scored to take a 7-0 lead at the 8:11 mark of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs scored their first touchdown of the afternoon when Johnson re-entered the game following an injury and found Keshane Hinckley for a 68-yard toss to tie the game at 7 heading into the fourth quarter. Newberry then went up 10-7 on a 48-yard field goal.
But the Bulldogs defense then shut the door on the visitors, forcing yet another fumble that snuffed out any hopes for a comeback.
On the day, the Bulldogs bread and butter run game was held to a season-low 20 yards but Johnson made up for it as he completed 15 passes for 244 yards and two TDs, both going to Keshane Hinckley who grabbed five for 132 yards and two TDs.
“We realized that we had to throw the ball because of the way that Newberry was playing,” said Bowie State head coach Damon Wilson.
“Ja’rome Johnson did an outstanding job of making the throws that he had to,” he said. “This is the character of this team. All season, they have been doing what they have to do for us to win whether on offense, defense or special teams.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs had two players record nine tackles each: graduating seniors Wesley Bowers (Fort Washington, Md.) and Ellison Jordan (Upper Marlboro, Md.). Both secured a sack and a tackle for a loss.
“We have to play well against a Division II superpower like Valdosta,” Wilson said. “They are a good football team so we know it is going to be a dogfight.”