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CIAA Football: Virginia State-Bowie State rivalry continues to burn

Virginia State plus Bowie State often equals classic CIAA football. What should we expect on Saturday?

A candidate for CIAA football game of the year is on tap as Bowie State heads to Ettrick, Va. Saturday for Virginia State’s homecoming (4 p.m.). It is an intriguing match up for several reasons.

New VSU head coach Dr. Henry Frazier III is a Washington, D.C. native and former BSU quarterback (1986-89) who was head coach of the Bulldogs from 1999-2003. 

Frazier was head coach at Prairie View A&M (2004-2010) where he won a SWAC championship in 2009. He then took over at N. C. Central (2010-2013). Frazier returned to BSU as special assistant to former head coach Damon Wilson as the Bulldogs won the last three CIAA titles.

In May, Frazier was named the new head coach at VSU, returning back to his CIAA football. A month later, Wilson left BSU to become the new head coach at Morgan State. Former BSU linebackers coach Kyle Jackson, who played for and coached under Wilson, was named BSU’s interim head coach.

CIAA football rivalry in focus

Virginia State has not beaten Bowie State during the Bulldogs’ three-peat of north division and CIAA titles, but the games have been close. The rivalry has been made juicier as they will have met at each other’s homecomings in three of the last four seasons. They’ll do it again this year.

The Trojans lost 51-44 last season at Bowie as the teams combined for over 1,000 yards of offense. The score was tied at 44 midway thru the fourth quarter.

VSU fell 24-14 at its 2019 homecoming in Ettrick. It was one of only two losses for VSU (the other to Norfolk State of the MEAC) during a 9-2 campaign. BSU led that game 17-14 entering the fourth quarter.

In 2018, VSU fought back from a 20-2 deficit before falling 20-15 at Bowie State’s homecoming. VSU’s attempt at a game-winning drive was halted at midfield in the final minute. The CIAA did not play during the COVID-marred 2020 season.

In fact, before Shaw’s last minute 17-14 win over Bowie State this season, it had only one loss in conference play – 42-23 to Chowan in 2018 – in the last three seasons. 

VSU last beat BSU in 2017, 47-35 behind running back Trenton Cannon’s 234 rushing yards en route to winning the N. Div. and CIAA titles. Cannon is now in his fifth season in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans.

Trenton Cannon Virginia State HBCU football
Virginia State RB Trenton Cannon runs away from a Bowie State defender en route to a 234-yard rushing day in the 2017 match up. VSU’s 47-35 win was the last time the Trojans got by Bowie State. They meet Saturday at VSU’s homecoming.

This season’s VSU/BSU match-up

So far this season, VSU lost its season-opener to nationally-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne, 38-19. L-RU (4-1) is currently ranked 14th in the Coaches (AFCA) Div. II poll with its only loss to Div. II No. 1 and defending national champion Ferris State (27-5 on Sept. 10). 

Bowie State’s loss was at S. Div. contender Shaw on a last-minute touchdown, 17-14.

Bowie State graduate quarterback Dion Golatt Jr., a Morgan State transfer, has ably stepped in replacing Ja’Rome Johnson. Johnson quarterbacked BSU to the 2019 and 2021 CIAA titles.

After a record 469-yard, four-TD passing performance in a 69-0 win against St. Augustine’s last week, Golatt is second in the conference in passing yardage at 276.8 yards per game. He leads the CIAA with ten passing touchdowns.

BSU averaged nearly 180 rushing yards per game a season ago. They were led by 1,000-yard rusher Calil Wilkins. The Bulldogs are averaging 146 rushing yards per game this season. Redshirt sophomore Sam Doku is BSU’s leading rusher with 299 yards (59.9 ypg.) thru five games with three TDs.

VSU senior running back Darius Hagans is second in CIAA rushing. Hagans averages 116.0 rushing yards per game and 6.0 yards per carry. He has scored three rushing touchdowns. Five-eleven, 210-pound junior Jordan Davis is the VSU quarterback. He has thrown for 738 yards (147.5 ypg.) with six touchdowns and two interceptions thru five games.

Give the passing edge to Bowie State and the rushing edge to Virginia State. Both defenses are solid.

CIAA Football: Virginia State-Bowie State rivalry continues to burn
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