The C. Milton Wright defense endured what must have been its longest and hottest first quarter of play last night as the No. 7-ranked Mustangs defeated Bowie, 24-16, in Bel Air.
The Wright defenders remained on the field for 10:15 as the Bulldogs put together an 80-yard, error-filled drive to take an 8-0 lead.
The marathon drive, and some errors by Wright as well, kept the Mustangs at bay throughout the first half, before they went on to their 34th straight regular-season victory.
The game was played in stifling heat, and the long drive took its toll on the Bowie offense. Starting fullback Eric Jones collapsed of a heat injury midway through the second period and was taken away by ambulance.
Bowie quarterback Roger Barnes was 6-for-6 in passing and Frank George carried nine times for 52 yards in the opening drive. But it was hardly a textbook display of ball control.
The Bulldogs were penalized five times for more than 50 yards, and two big gains were called back.
The Mustangs defense turned the game around in the third quarter.
Wright's John Terrill blocked a punt at the Bowie 34 midway through the third quarter to set up the go-ahead score.
Then Gavin Snyder recovered a fumble at the Bowie 38 with 1:40 left in the third quarter to set up the third score. Jeff Judy recovered a defected kickoff on the next kickoff to set up the final touchdown.
Jason Tharpe, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior, scored all four touch downs for the Mustangs, on 1-, 3-, 1-, and 9-yard runs. His fourth gave Wright a 24-8 lead as the third quarter ended. He finished with 109 yards on 27 carries.
All four conversion passes by Wright failed.
Bowie closed the gap to 24-16 when Barnes hit George with a 4-yard pass. Jermaine Arrington set up the final score with an 80-yard kickoff return to the Wright 10.
"That first quarter left a lot to be desired," said Wright coach Steve Harward. "There were a lot of errors. But the defense played well."