Westminster falls to Bowie in first game independent from Carroll
The beginning of the 2015 season meant a lot for the Westminster football program. With head coach Matt Study on the sideline, the Owls took the field to a different tune — literally.
Aside from a revamped version of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" serving as background music for the team's entrance, fresh blue helmets completed the transition to a new era.
Despite that high sense of energy Friday night for the season opener against Bowie, however, the Owls failed to match with their play on the field, falling 54-21.
"I think it was more of us shooting ourselves in the foot," Westminster running back Caleb Smalls said. "They did make big plays, but it was offensive focus that was lacking. That's what really cost us the game."
In its first game independent from Carroll County football, Westminster suffered a loss before the opening coin flip.
Returning senior quarterback Chris Lang, who led the regular season in passing yards last year, was suffering from mononucleosis and was unable to play. That meant junior quarterback Braden Davis got the nod to lead the Owls.
The change at quarterback didn't seem to make much of a difference, as Bowie's fast receivers and backs danced through tackles and lit up the scoreboard.
The visitors got two touchdowns from Marvin Ransom, and three from Marcus Haynes. There were plenty of deep throws from quarterback Jason Epps, as well as a heavy dose of Isaiah Fleming on the ground in the lopsided victory.
As for the Owls, Smalls and Zane Lewis provided the only scores on the day.
Westminster's opening drive was stifled after a Davis fumble. The visitors started in Owls territory, and minutes later, Fleming got them to the Westminster 12-yard line.
After another steady drive in the second — which included a Fleming 38-yard run to put the Bulldogs in position — the visitors got on the board again when Epps took it in himself six yards.
Having fought all the way to the Bowie 26 in a fourth-and-short situation in the second, Davis fed Smalls on the handoff up the middle, which opened completely and allowed the runner up the seam nearly untouched for the Westminster score. Ian Gould's extra point put the Owls within one score of tying things up.
Epps then connected with Haynes for 70 yards to put the visitors on the Westminster 12. The quarterback hit Mikah Christian through the air for the 3-yard score, and the Fleming conversion was good.
That's when Lewis made his mark just before the half came to a close. On the following kickoff, the sophomore collected the squib and took it 65 yards for the score. Gould's kick brought things to 22-14 at the break.
In the second half, Epps dazzled with a few more big plays. He hit Haynes for an 83-yard score, and Ransom for another long touchdown, with a few other deep throws in-between. Haynes also caught another touchdown from reserve quarterback Freddie Mitchell, and Julian Jacobs picked up a fumble and ran it 65 yards for the Bowie score in the fourth as well.
Smalls ended the second-half shutout with a short-yardage run in the fourth quarter, though it wasn't quite enough to stir a comeback for the Owls.
Things won't get easier for the Owls as their first run separate from Carroll County continues. Next week, they travel to recently reclassified Oakdale, which won its opener, 60-3. The rest of the schedule is filled with more 3A and 4A foes.
"The positive thing is that we have a whole lot of points still to gather," Study said. "And our guys know that. Losing one early does not kill us. We understand that. We have a lot to grow from."