The first home game for Bowie State turned into its first victory in nearly a year.
The offense moved the ball. The defense bent, but it came up big in the red zone when the outcome was in doubt. And the Bulldogs even got lucky on occasion, catching almost as many breaks as passes.
It all added up to a 35-26 victory over Knoxville College before 4,510 at Bulldog Stadium, ending a six-game losing streak that dated to last October.
The Bulldogs (1-2) scored on their first possession, marching 63 yards in eight plays. And they stayed in front, even though Knoxville (1-2) picked up 12 first downs in the opening half, got inside the Bowie 16-yard line three times before intermission, and crossed midfield again early in the third quarter.
If Knoxville hadn't scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, the margin would have been more impressive and Bulldogs coach Sherman Wood would have been in a better mood.
"This is a prime example of a young ballclub," he said. "The secondary is all sophomores, and it showed. We faced a hurry-up offense and the kids panicked a little. The good thing is, we won."
Senior quarterback Darrell Foote had struggled before yesterday, completing 18 of 50 passes with no touchdowns and four interceptions. But he was sharper against Knoxville, going 7-for-13 for 111 yards and two touchdowns before leaving in the third quarter. He also was intercepted twice.
It looked as though Bowie, which opened with road losses to West Liberty and Norfolk State by a combined score of 62-12, would come up empty on its initial drive. Faced with fourth-and-12 from the Knoxville 13, the Bulldogs passed up the chance at a field goal because they've lacked a true kicker since Tim McGurk quit the team a week before the season began.
Foote hit Lamont Connor over the middle for a touchdown, then connected with Brian Palmer for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
The defense would be tested right away. Knoxville moved to Bowie's 14 before three incompletions ended the drive. Sophomore Ray Cannon broke up the last two at the goal line.
The visiting Bulldogs threatened again the next time they had the ball, getting to the Bowie 3 before disaster struck -- twice.
A holding penalty nullified an apparent touchdown pass from Andre Williams to Donnell Williams, and on the next play, Andre ** Williams fumbled without being hit. Bowie freshman Shamar Foster recovered at the 19 and raced 46 yards.
Knoxville finally broke through with 5:32 left before halftime when Williams passed 15 yards to Joe Barr, who out-jumped Bowie's Marco Griffin in the end zone.
An interception by sophomore Malik James set up the Bowie's second touchdown, a four-yard run by freshman Ryan Pigford with 10 seconds remaining in the half. Knoxville committed two penalties during the series, one for excessive celebrating after a sack and the other for roughing the passer.
Cannon intercepted a Williams' pass in the third quarter, and two plays later, Bowie increased its lead to 20-6. Starting on the Knoxville 37, Topper Ellis ran for one yard, then senior Thomas Destry (four catches, 103 yards) hauled in a touchdown pass from Foote, who had two open receivers.