The Bowie State defense had capitalized on most game-changing opportunities this season, as the Bulldogs had leaned heavily on the unit in reaching the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship game. But of the six Fayetteville State fumbles on Saturday, none found its way into the arms of a Bowie State defender, a primary reason why the Bulldogs fell, 17-14, in Winston-Salem, N.C.

All of the fumbles came on the snap, but quarterback Te{acute}Mon Wallace remained composed every time and fell on the ball. On one of the fumbles, a Fayetteville State running back even picked up the loose ball and ran for 12 yards. The Bulldogs were called for offsides the one time they did recover a fumble, wiping out the play.

"As soon as the ball dropped, they just pounced on it," Bowie State Coach Henry Frazier III said. "When the ball hit the ground, it just stuck to it like clay."

The Bowie State players were frustrated at how Fayetteville State (10-1) could fumble that many times on a rain-drenched and mud-laden field and never lose the ball.

"For them to get the ball back every time was demoralizing," Bowie State wide receiver Mike Bryant said. "In a game where weather conditions played a factor and turnovers were important, we couldn't get any."

Despite the loss, the Bulldogs (6-5) still received a bowl berth. Fayetteville State (10-1) landed in the Division II playoffs, which opened up a slot for Bowie State in the Pioneer Bowl in Tampa against Tuskegee on Dec. 15.

Frazier was thrilled that his team will be playing in the Pioneer Bowl, because making the postseason had been a goal since the preseason. The Bulldogs last made the Division II playoffs in 1989, when they won the CIAA championship with Frazier at quarterback. This is the team's first bowl game.

"We've done just about everything we set out to do," Frazier said. "It just seems like we keep getting opportunities. I hope [that] is our week to win."

If Bowie State is to win, it must eliminate the costly and untimely turnovers that have plagued the offense this year. Fayetteville State linebacker Brian Holliday's first-quarter interception set up the first Broncos touchdown for a 7-0 lead. Kevin Nesbit's fumbled punt return deep in Bulldogs territory set up the other, and Wallace's second touchdown pass of the day gave Fayetteville State a 17-6 lead.

Wallace completed 12 of 18 passes for 208 and the two touchdowns, a performance that left Frazier shaking his head.

"He was the difference in the game," Frazier said. "Every pass he threw was accurate. He threw the ball like it was dry."

Running back Julius Jordan was one of the few highlights for the Bulldogs' offense. He ran for 102 yards on 19 carries and scored both touchdowns, including the second one (and the two-point conversion) that sliced the Broncos' lead to 17-14 with 6 minutes 44 seconds remaining. But the Bulldogs pulled no closer.

"I still don't know how they got all of [the fumbles] back," Jordan said. "That hurt."