The Bowie State University football team erased an early two-touchdown deficit and survived a wild final minute to earn a 24-20 victory against Assumption College in its season opener on Saturday in Bowie.
The Bulldogs drove 65 yards in the final seconds and scored the game-winning touchdown with 5 seconds remaining after Assumption had scored to take the lead in the final minute of play.
Assumption drove 75 yards in four plays for a touchdown and a 20-17 lead with 33 seconds to go. The Bulldogs then took over at their own 35 with 29 seconds left. Quarterback Jared Johnston connected with wide receiver Douglas McNeil for a 16-yard gain to start the game-winning drive. A roughing the passer call on Assumption gave Bowie State another 15 yards. Johnston found McNeil again for 19 yards, putting the Bulldogs 15 yards away from the winning touchdown.
After Johnston carried and lost a yard, he hit McNeil on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 5 seconds to go, and kicker Mario Diaz-Aviles added the extra point.
Assumption had time for one final play, but threw an incomplete pass.
Bowie State trailed 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, but cut into Assumption's lead just before halftime. Johnston connected with Reginald McIntyre ona 22-yard touchdown pass with 1:59 left in the second quarter.
Bowie State tied the game in the third quarter, driving 60 yards in nine plays, capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass from Johnston to McNeil. A 37-yard field goal by Diaz-Aviles with 1:59 to play gave the Bulldogs a 17-14 lead and set the stage for the dramatic final sequence.
The Bulldogs struggled on the ground, gaining just 43 rushing yards on 29 carries. But Johnston completed 16 of 33 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns. Seven of those passes went to McNeil, who totaled 144 receiving yards.
Curtis Pumphrey and Bekewele Amadi (Bladensburg High) led the Bowie State defense with eight tackles each. Antoine Young (Suitland High) and Anthony Kees each had seven tackles, and Sean Garland had a sack.
Bowie State is back in action Thursday night in Columbia, S.C., against Benedict College.