SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Bowie State University Bulldogs opened the 2019 season on the road at American International College on Saturday (9/7) afternoon and used a huge fourth quarter surge to claim a 34-20 victory.
Both teams struggled for offensive production throughout the non-conference contest. The Bulldogs tallied 384 yards of total offense with 150 coming in the first half. Bulldogs redshirt junior quarterback Gaston Cooper made his debut under center, completing 5-of-16 passes for 38 yards but was intercepted twice. Junior Ja'rome Johnson came off the Bulldogs bench late in the second quarter to take over at quarterback and finished the game with 230 yards of total offense (58 passing and 172 rushing) and scored two touchdowns. Redshirt senior wide receiver Deron Smith caught three passes for a team-high 41 yards while senior DuShon David added three catches for 13 yards.
Defensively, the Bulldogs turned in a tremendous performance. The team played some clutch defense as well, holding American International's Yellow Jackets to just 144 total yards. Redshirt senior Anthony Howard led BSU's defensive effort with eight total tackles (six solo). Redshirt sophomore Joshua Pryor added six total tackles while redshirt freshman Jonathan Ross contributed with five total tackles in the game.
Bowie State took advantage of an American International opening drive miscue with redshirt senior Oluwaleke Ajenifuja recovering a fumble at the Yellow Jackets 23-yard line. Four plays later, senior Gene Carson booted a 39-yard field goal to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead at the 14:06 mark.
American International blocked its second Bowie State punt of the game and scored on a 3-yard return by Fayeson Carney. The point after attempt was no good but the Yellow Jackets took the lead at 6-3 with 5:48 to go in first quarter.
With 3:04 remaining in the first half, Johnson connected with Deron Smith for a 25-yard touchdown pass, shifting the advantage back over to Bowie State at 10-6.
A controversial fumble call following an American International punt to Bowie State, gave the ball back to the Yellow Jackets at the Bulldogs 18-yard line. Three plays later, AIC punched it in via a Jayson Demild 2-yard rushing touchdown, shifting the lead back over to the Yellow Jackets at 13-10 with 52 seconds left before halftime.
Bowie State's Johnson rumbled for a 69-yard TD run with 2:57 to go in 3rd quarter and Carson's PAT put the Bulldogs back on top at 17-13.
The Bowie State defense held American International to a three and out on the next Yellow Jackets possession and Carson kicked a 29-yard field goal at the 14:20 mark of the fourth quarter to give the Bulldogs a little breathing room at 20-13.
Senior Derrick Kittrell scored his first touchdown of the season, scampering in from 12 yards out with 9:28 remaining in the contest, giving the Bulldogs a 27-13 cushion. Kittrell scored again following a Chauncey Jackson interception, this time for a 1-yard touchdown to extend Bowie State's lead to 34-13.
AIC's Samad Davilla broke the BSU 24-0 scoring run, rushing for a 2-yard touchdown but the Bulldogs were comfortably in front 34-20 with 6:56 remaining on the game clock.
The Bulldogs will be back on the road again next Saturday (9/14) traveling south to take on conference foe Shaw University in a non-conference contest. Kickoff time is set for 1 p.m. and will be played in Raleigh (N.C.) at the George Williams Athletic Complex on the campus of Saint Augustine's University.