Through Bowie High School's first four games this season, senior wide receiver Mohamed Roberts wasn't himself. Coming off a dominant junior campaign where he and junior quarterback Jordan Green developed a strong bond, Roberts has dropped more passes than he cares to remember in 2013.
Sure the yardage was there, but he wasn't making the big plays.
“I was letting the dropped passes get to me,” Roberts said.
Consider his performance Saturday in a 13-6 win against Eleanor Roosevelt a friendly reminder to the opposition that Roberts still possesses the game-changing abilities that could make the Bulldogs very difficult to beat down the stretch.
“This game, I was fully tuned in,” said Roberts, who finished with three catches for 51 yards and two touchdowns. “It's all about consistency and faith in our teammates. We all have faith in each other every day throughout practice.”
On the strength of Roberts' two touchdown catches, a clinical second-half performance by Green and a crucial interception by junior Issa Conteh, Jr., the Bulldogs beat Roosevelt, 13-6, for the first time since 2009 and second time since 2005. The week prior, Jae Jackson's team beat Henry A. Wise for the first time since 2006. That's manyyears of frustration released by the Bulldogs in consecutive games that's helped Bowie improve to 2-3. The Raiders, meanwhile, fell to 2-3 and couldn't hold on to their slim first-half lead.
“The kids preserved and showed some intestinal fortitude,” Jackson said. “This victory, on top of [the Wise] victory is our way of trying to get back into the playoff hunt.”
Roberts' first touchdown came with 4 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Green, who finished the first half with three completions and 23 yards, was locked in throughout the final 24 minutes and found the 6-foot-3 Roberts for a 15-yard score. With 11:07 to play in the fourth quarter, Green connected with Roberts again, this time from eight yards out (and one play after they connected for a touchdown that was called back because of a penalty) to cushion the Bulldogs' lead. Green finished his solid afternoon 10-for-21 with 170 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
“He's always reliable,” Green said of Roberts. “Whether he drops the ball or not, we always say the most important play is the next play. And if he's open, I'm going to throw it to him on the next play.”
With time winding down in the fourth quarter, Roosevelt quarterback Carlson Teke nearly led his team on a game-winning drive. In fact, he scored a touchdown on an 8-yard run that was called back for a hold with 2:42 remaining. Two plays later, facing a second-and-goal from the 5-yard-line, an illegal shift penalty sent the Raiders back to Bowie's 10. After Teke gained three yards on third down, the Raiders attempted a halfback pass on fourth down, but Elijah Liverette's effort was intercepted by Conteh, Jr., sealing Roosevelt's fate.
“Finally, people in the school actually claim us now. Before, nobody used to want to rep Bowie High School,” said Conteh, Jr., who has three picks this year and has dubbed himself “Issa Island” after his favorite player, Darrelle Revis. “Now they're proud of us.”
The complexion of the game likely was changed on the first play of the afternoon when Roosevelt's main backfield threat, senior Mike Mofor, was injured after he was hit late by a Bowie player. He didn't return and Roosevelt coach Tom Green had six different players out of the backfield in an effort to recover. Teke was busiest as he rushed 20 times for 111 yards, but only completed one pass.
“When Mofor went out, it changed a lot of what we were trying to run,” Green said. “It's just 15 yards for [Bowie], but we lost our leading rusher.”
The Raiders ran 31 plays in the first half compared to Bowie's 23, but that ratio practically flipped in the second half as Bowie ran 34 and Roosevelt ran 20. In addition to having two touchdowns called back by penalties, Bowie fullback Shomari Stewart fumbled the ball at the goal line in the third quarter to help keep the Raiders in the game.
Both teams will play games with massive playoff implications next weekend as Bowie is scheduled to play host to DuVal while Roosevelt will travel to Wise.
Bowie 13, Eleanor Roosevelt 6
Bowie (2-3) 0 0 7 6 — 13
Eleanor Roosevelt (2-3) 6 0 0 0 — 6
ER — Jaharr Johnson 10 run (Joseph Boasiako kick failed), 3:48
B — Mohamed Roberts 15 pass from Jordan Green (Landre Adetola kick), 4:10
B — Mohamed Roberts 8 pass from Jordan Green (Landre Adetola kick failed), 11:07
Bowie — Malcolm Sesay 11-36, Vernon Aziah 7-27, Jordan Green 9-12, Shomari Stewart 2-0, Sean Rowland 2-0, Tyree Johnson 1-0
Eleanor Roosevelt — Carlson Teke 20-111, Jawuan Brown 7-28, Jaharr Johnson 9-24, Elijah Liverette 4-14, Karl Mofor 2-3, Kharie Lawrence 1-1
Bowie — Jordan Green 10-21-170-1
Eleanor Roosevelt — Carlson Teke 1-7-10-0, Elijah Liverette 0-1-0-1
Bowie — Mohamed Roberts 3-51, Matthew Phillips 1-41, Sean Rowland 2-40, Brandon Clark 2-19, Malcolm Sesay 2-19
Eleanor Roosevelt — Jawuan Brown 1-10