With 10 minutes left in the game, Bowie had a 6-0 lead in the Maryland Class AA state football quarterfinals Monday night, but Oxon Hill had a first down at the Bowie 3.
Bowie first-year Coach Gary Wrenn quickly called a timeout and raced on the field to give his defensive unit some instructions and words of encouragement.
Before he could speak, his players told him they were aware of their mistakes during Oxon Hill's 93-yard drive and knew what they had to do to prevent the touchdown. They had stopped the powerful Clippers on four downs from the 7 in the first period and thought they could do it again.
Wrenn turned and trotted back to the bench.
On second down, the Clippers scored, but the Bulldogs stopped the extra-point try and the game remained tied, 6-6. Bowie's Mark Fitzpatrick kicked a 30-yard field goal five minutes later for a dramatic 9-6 triumph. But it was that emotional non-speech by Wrenn that may have been the key to the win.
"I was elated when the kids said they wouldn't give in and would do their best to stop them," Wrenn said. "I didn't have to say a word. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, they were so fired up and enthusiastic at that point, I just turned and left."
Said safety Kevin Jackson: "We had gotten too overaggressive on their drive but when they had first and goal, we just felt we could stop them again. We were going to make them earn this touchdown."
After thwarting the two-point try, the Bulldogs played inspired football the remainder of the game, refusing to be intimidated by the same team that had beaten them, 28-10, two weeks ago.
With only two starting players weighing more than 200 pounds, the Bulldogs have scrapped their way to a 10-1 mark. Bowie faces its stiffest test Saturday when it plays at Seneca Valley (11-0) in a 1 p.m. semifinal.
"It will take another tremendous effort to play with them," Wrenn said. "They have a top-notch program and are very disciplined with good players."
Bowie will face weight and depth disadvantages, but the Bulldogs will prepare for this game the same way they did for their others. From their high-top Johnny Unitas-style black shoes to their 3 1/2-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense, the smallish Bulldogs will scuffle and scrap for four periods.
Bowie's character and determination really showed Monday night. In addition to the goal-line stand, 5-foot-11, 179-pound Michael Young, who plays both quarterback and roverback, came up with a critical fumble recovery and last-minute interception and the 6-0, 150-pound Jackson made a touchdown-saving tackle of Kenny Jones.
Five of Bowie's victories have been by six points or less. Offensively, Nick Arbutina and Jackson do the bulk of the running, combining for nearly 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns. Young has six touchdown passes, three of them to 5-11, 174-pound tight end Alan Hansen. Fitzpatrick is another weapon with seven field goals.