Bowie State gets its first NCAA playoff win — No. 1 Valdosta State is next up
Amir Hall has 3 TDs, more than 400 yards total offense against West Alabama
The saying goes “the third time is the charm,” and for Bowie State, that’s for real. In its third trip to the NCAA playoffs in four seasons, the Bulldogs won their first playoff game in school history.
The Bulldogs (10-2) beat the University of West Alabama (8-4) 41-35 in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs Saturday. The win comes a week after Bowie State won its first Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championship.
To Bowie State head coach Damon Wilson, the success isn’t a surprise. “We’re just trying to add to the legacy,” said Wilson. “We’re doing something that I saw 10 years ago, and I think very few people saw it. I’m so thankful that the administration continues to give me an opportunity to lead this ballclub.”
Along with the team accomplishments, the Bulldogs also boast the CIAA’s all-time passing touchdowns and yardage leader in senior quarterback Amir Hall.
While it’s only the first round, Hall has put his team in a dream scenario. But he knows it wasn’t his efforts alone that got them here.
“I got to just give a big shoutout to my teammates; they’re part of this legacy,” said Hall. “We’ve been competing every day in practice, making myself better, and without them I wouldn’t even be in this position right now.”
Hall finished the game with three touchdowns, one passing and two running, and completed 31 of 48 passes for 360 yards while also gaining 51 rushing yards.
“Obviously, he’s a special player. You don’t break the kind of records he’s broken without being a really good player in a really good scheme,” said Brett Gilliland, who’s in his fifth year as head coach of West Alabama. “Going in, we knew that was the challenge to slow him down, but he had a good day.”
Hall’s play was able to keep the pressure on West Alabama most of the game. Senior linebacker Terry Samuel understands the caliber of player Hall is after chasing him on the field all game. “He’s a great quarterback. He’s got the stats and accolades to prove that. They’ve got a great scheme and were the better team today,” said Samuel.
The Bulldogs are the only historically black college or university (HBCU) team in the NCAA Division II playoffs this season, which means any win gives more exposure to the school and HBCUs as a whole.
“We’ve just recruited the state of Alabama, and we didn’t spend a dollar to go recruit. That’s the reality when your university is playing in the top 28 teams in the country,” said Wilson. “Playing in late November, you’re recruiting, you’re marketing your university, you’re branding your university.”
The celebrations can only last for so long, as the Bulldogs now shift their attention to undefeated No. 1 Valdosta State in the second round.
“Coach Wilson doesn’t really have to say anything to us. As a group, we understand what’s at stake,” Hall said. “Yes, they’re the No. 1 team. But, like I said, I love my guys to death and I feel like we’re going into that game not really caring about rankings.”