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It was shaping up to be last week all over again.

Quarterback Amir Hall connected with Geordan Clark for a 44-yard touchdown pass, and Virginia Union found itself in a 21-0 hole in the first quarter for the second week in a row.vuu panther2014

Last week, Chowan led the Panthers 21-0 in the first quarter and went on to hand Union its first CIAA loss of the year.

This week it was Bowie State, the defending Northern Division champion and a team the Panthers had never beaten under third-year coach Mark James, that held a three-touchdown lead.

James frequently talks about how each game is an opportunity for his team and Saturday at Hovey Field, Virginia Union seized the opportunity to show that it won't accept an early deficit as a precursor to defeat.

William Stanback rushed for 194 yards and three scores, Shawheem Dowdy threw three touchdown passes, true freshman Sterling Hammond made a huge tackle late, and Virginia Union came from behind and defeated the Bulldogs 42-35 on Saturday.

The victory, combined with a Chowan loss, makes Bowie State and Virginia Union even atop the CIAA Northern Division standings, each with a 4-1 record in CIAA play. With the win, however, VUU holds the edge over the Bulldogs in the standings.

"Kids came together, played together. You can't want more than that," said James. "True grit, true heart. Down 21-zip, they came together and decided they weren't going down."

Stanback rushed in two scores early in the second quarter to make it 21-14. Brandon Adams punched in a Bowie score to make it 28-14 before a bad snap turned into a Union touchdown just before the half.

On third-and-6 from the Bowie 20, Dowdy turned around before the ball was snapped. He reacted quickly, picking the ball up and finding a streaking Gustaviou Dames for a touchdown.

"The ball just fell right in front of me. I picked it up, my running back, Stanback, came and picked up the D-end, and it allowed me to throw a touchdown," Dowdy said.

Stanback rushed in touchdown No. 3 in the third, and Dowdy found Lavatiae Kelly for a 72-yarder to give Union a short-lived 35-28 lead. Bowie running back Robert Chesson tied the game with 39 seconds left in the quarter.

The Panthers regained the lead with Dowdy's 2-yard pass to tight end Aaquil Ingram-Harrow early in the fourth quarter.

Bowie recovered a Dowdy fumble and regained possession with 6 minutes left in the game. On fourth-and-1 from the Union 33, the Bulldogs elected to go for it.

Hammond, a defensive back, broke through the protection and tackled Chesson for a loss of 2, giving Union the ball and the chance to run out the clock.

Hammond, a freshman, recognized the play from film study.

"When I saw it, I just read it and broke on it. Made the play," Hammond said. "Oh, it felt good."

James told his team after getting down early that it was a four-quarter fight, and they had to believe.

"We came in saying we had to have faith, and we had to believe what God was doing for us," James said. "Even though it looked bleak, they went up 21-zip, we never stopped believing.

"What can I say about Shawheem Dowdy, William Stanback? They came together and put it on their backs. The defense, even though we were missing some people, came in against a great offensive attack, a great passing game and was able to limit some big plays. And then we were able to stay in the game and just do what we needed to do."

"We grew up today," Dowdy said. "We just came out here ready to fight."

~VUU Sports Information

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