Benedict to host Bowie State on national stage in DII game of the week
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Benedict and Bowie State will be in the national spotlight on Thursday night for the Division II game of the week.
“We're a very young football team, but we're very excited about the opportunity,” Benedict head coach James Woody said. “With us being home, I really think that's going to give us momentum. We just hope we get everyone out to the game and pack this stadium because our kids feed off that energy. I think we can pack the stands here with everyone very excited and we'll feed off the crowd and get some energy.”
Thursday night's game will be shown on CBS Sports Network. This is the seventh season CBS Sports Network has broadcast NCAA Division II regular-season games.
Thursday night's game will also be available on a national radio broadcast, as Heritage Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game.
The Tigers will be looking to rebound from Saturday's 28-7 loss to Virginia Union. Despite the final score, Woody said after studying the film, he was encouraged with several aspects of the team.
“Overall, I thought we played well,” Woody said. “The defense played extremely well. Offensively, we didn't sustain some drives. We've got to get better on third-down conversions. That really, really hurt us.”
Benedict converted on 5 of 17 attempts on third down, while holding the VUU to 1 of 18. But the Panthers did convert on one fourth-down attempt, which resulted in a touchdown.
The Benedict offense struggled at times. Freshman quarterback Marcus Graham was 12 of 25 for 119 yards and one interception. Chris Thomas came in and sparked the team to its only touchdown, and was 4 of 9 for 67 yards. Woody said the quarterback job is still up for grabs.
“Right now, Marcus is still our starter. Hopefully he can put this thing together,” Woody said. “Chris is coming along real, real strong. I have confidence in both of those guys playing, and, hopefully, after that they will be able to separate themselves. Right now, they're not able to separate themselves, they're so inconsistent.
“But that job is still up for grabs, so we'll see what happens after these next couple of practices.”
Woody said another key for Thursday night will be to hang on to the football. The Tigers had three turnovers against Virginia Union, including fumbling the second-half opening kickoff when they trailed just 12-7.
Bowie State comes into the game riding a lot of momentum. Bowie State rallied from a 14-point deficit, including scoring the winning touchdown with just five seconds left in the game for a 24-20 victory against Assumption. Assumption went ahead with 33 seconds left, but Bowie State moved the ball 65 yards in just 28 seconds for the winning score.
Bulldogs quarterback Jared Johnston threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Douglas McNeil III had seven catches for 144 yards.
Running back Keith Brown was All-CIAA last year as a freshman, but was held to just 23 yards against Assumption. The Bulldogs sport a front line that averages 300 pounds.
“I know they're a good football team, a very talented team,” Woody said. “They have great speed, great size. It's going to be a challenge for us, but we look forward to it.”