Bowie State’s best offense was opportunistic defense.
The Bulldogs forced six J.C. Smith turnovers in the second half, including defensive end Heleaince Gates’ 42-yard fumble return for the go-ahead score in their 34-21 CIAA win Saturday at soggy McGirt Field. The Bulldogs (4-1, 2-0 CIAA) shut out the Golden Bulls (1-4, 0-2) in the second half to offset five Bowie State turnovers.
“It changed the game,” Gates said. “Everybody came out pumped and ready to go back at it and do what we do best.”
What Bowie State did best was throttle J.C. Smith in the second half by converting a pair of Golden Bulls mistakes into 14 points. The game-changer was Gates’ scoop-and-score, one of three fumbles recovered by Bowie State.
“We were down by one, I saw the ball and grabbed it and took off,” said Gates, a Morgan State transfer. “I’m not that slow, but I took off running and scored to put my team up and give them momentum.”
J.C. Smith turned three Bowie State miscues into 14 points to grab a 21-20 halftime advantage, capped by Daron Wright’s 42-yard fumble return for a score with 39 seconds left. Golden Bulls freshman Jordan Lane, who struggled to 8-of-21-passing for 65 yards, three interceptions and two fumbles, tossed his first collegiate touchdown strike to Roderick Carter 1 minute, 42 seconds before the break.
“We had (those) turnovers and we can’t turn the football over (that many) times and expect to win,” Golden Bulls coach Kermit Blount said. “We made them turn it over. We just didn’t capitalize on their mistakes.”