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By Lut Williams
Black College Sports Page

SALEM, VA – Senior quarterback Amir Hall, the CIAA’s offensive player of the year, capped off his record-setting career as he ran for three touchdowns and passed for one as North Division champ Bowie State downed South Division champ Fayetteville State 30-10 in a cold and windy league title game in Salem Stadium Saturday.ciaafbc18 logo

It was the first championship game win for the Bulldogs (9-2), who were 0-5 in championship games after its 1989 championship game victory over Winston-Salem State was vacated. It was also the the first championship game win in three tries for 10-year head coach and BSU alum Damon Wilson.
“It feels great to finally come down here and win one,” said Wilson. “It’s something that I envisioned when I came here as the head football coach and to have a chance to lead my alma mater and the group of guys like I have is just great.”

FSU (6-3), in the championship game for the second straight year under head coach Richard Hayes Jr., did not help itself as it fumbled away the opening kickoff and had three other first half turnovers while falling behind early.

“You just can’t expect to turn the ball over four times and beat a team like Bowie State,” Hayes said. “But we’re a young team. We’ll be back.”

Hall, named BSU’s most valuable player in the game, scored on runs of 14, 6 and 80 yards in the first half helping stake the Bulldogs (9-2) to a 21-3 lead at the half. He hit tight end Darryl Jasper on a 13-yard scoring pass in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 30-3 and all but putting the game away.

Placekicker Gene Carson had a 19-yard field goal early in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 24-3 and made three of four PATs to complete the Bulldogs’ scoring.

The 6-6 signal-caller who was last year’s black college player of the year, had already set the league’s all-time record for passing touchdowns (98) and came into the game needing just 81 yards to break former NC Central QB Earl ‘Air’ Harvey’s career passing yardage record of 10,620 yards. He surpassed Harvey’s mark on a 17-yard third quarter completion to wideout Lansana Sesay.

But it was his running that made the difference Saturday as he took advantage of FSU’s 2-deep zone coverage to find running room in the middle of the field. Hall, who came into the game leading all of Div. II at 332 passing yards per game, completed just 15 of 26 passes for 180 yards, his second lowest total of the season.

“I don’t know what he (Hall) was doing,” said Wilson jokingly. “He’s been great to coach and watch develop over the years. And he just took advantage of what the defense was giving us. They tried to eliminate some of our passing game but he’s a dual-threat quarterback who’s going to continue to play football for a long time. And he took advantage of his legs today. Our offensive line did a great job of giving him the ability to run the ball and pass it when we needed to.”

“I’m just surprised as y’all,” said Hall, who had four interceptions in 2016 when BSU lost in the title game. “My main thing coming into the game was we couldn’t turn the ball over, so I was really hard on myself when we got in the red zone area to do not force anything. My O-line made some great lanes for me to run through so I just had to make plays.”

His first score from 14 yards out came at the end of an 87-yard drive that consumed just over seven minutes and got the Bulldogs on the board. His second score came after defensive end Derrick Tate forced a fumble by FSU QB Collyn Anderson on FSU’s next possession that Olwaleke Ajenifuja recovered at the FSU 19. Three plays later Hall went in from the 6-yard line to give BSU a 14-0 lead.

FSU got on the board in the second quarter on a 28-yard David Lamb field goal and got the ball back after forcing a BSU punt. After the Broncos punted into the end zone for a touchback on the ensuing possession, Hall broke thru up the middle and rambled virtually untouched 80 yards for a score to stretch the lead to 21-3.

The BSU defense meanwhile bottled up the FSU offense limiting it to the field goal and a meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown. FSU junior all-CIAA running back Stevie Green was the exception as he rushed for 135 yards (19 carries) and also also had three catches for 36 yards. He had 171 of the 296 total yards for FSU. Green was FSU’s game MVP.

BSU’s final score came in the third quarter following a 17-yard FSU punt that put the Bulldogs in business at the FSU 48. They needed eight plays to cover the distance as Hall threw his league-best 28th touchdown of the season over the middle to Jasper.

Bowie State was ranked fourth in Super Region One of NCAA Div. II and will receive a bid to the playoffs that begin next week. The Bulldogs will find out their opponent on Sunday at 5 p.m. during the NCAA Div. II playoff selection show.

“We’ll celebrate, enjoy this now and tomorrow, and then we’ll find out who our opponent is and begin preparation,” said Wilson. “Bur for now, we’re celebrating. It’s been a long time coming.”

NOTABLE:
FSU junior RB Stevie Green, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first two seasons, finished this season with 948 yards. With a year of eligibility remaining, Green now has 3,355 yards and needs 355 yards to break the school rushing record held by Clifton Davis (1991-94, 3,709).

 

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