Bowie State freshman William Kirkland II has forged a key role on the football team by combining his improving ability to give up the ball with his sudden knack for taking it away.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Largo High graduate chose to play for Bowie State because the coaching staff agreed to let him pursue his relatively unique combination of gridiron interests -- punting and pass coverage. Despite allowing three blocked punts in his first two games, Kirkland has averaged 36.5 yards, good for fourth in the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. He also has started the past two games in the secondary and leads Bowie State with three interceptions.

"Other schools wanted me to come in and play wide receiver or defensive back, but I wanted to do more than just one thing," Kirkland said. "I like doing both."

The coaches' faith in Kirkland was validated in Saturday's 21-0 homecoming victory over Elizabeth City State. Kirkland led the Bulldogs' shutout effort with seven tackles and two interceptions, one of which he returned 44 yards for a touchdown. The win lifted Bowie State (5-3, 4-1) into first place in the CIAA East.

"As the coaches have gotten confident in me, my confidence level has also risen," Kirkland said.

Bison Earn First Shutout

The Howard men's soccer team earned its first shutout of the season against an unlikely opponent, Atlantic Soccer Conference rival Florida International, the 1996 NCAA runner-up. The teams played to a 0-0 tie Sunday at Greene Stadium, where the Bison (3-8-1, 0-2-1) ended FIU's seven-game win streak. Howard had been yielding nearly three goals per game. . . .

Sophomore forward Kim Warner continued to carry the George Washington women's soccer team Sunday, scoring in a 1-0 win at Temple that lifted the Colonials (7-7, 4-3 Atlantic 10) into contention for one of four conference tournament berths. The 84th-minute tally was Warner's 12th of the season and her fourth game-winning goal. Warner, who has played six times for the Canadian national team, has scored more goals than the rest of the Colonials combined.

Hoya Is Sailing Right Along

Andrew Campbell is only six weeks into his college sailing career, but the Georgetown freshman already is established as the nation's best single-handed sailor. He is undefeated this fall and his triumph in last week's Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association single-handed (Laser) championship in Annapolis, which qualified him for next month's national regatta in Houston, was another addition to a resume that already includes a junior world title. Should he triumph in November, he would become the first Hoya to claim a national championship.

Campbell has his goals set on more than collegiate honors. He is the top-ranked Laser sailor by U.S. Sailing, the national governing body that selects the Olympic team. Campbell will take the semester off next fall in order to concentrate on Olympic qualifying.

It's a Big Soccer Weekend

A big weekend of men's college soccer is highlighted by a Saturday night ACC showdown between No. 7 Maryland (11-3, 3-1) and No. 4 Clemson (9-1-2, 2-1-1) in College Park. American (11-4) plays at No. 21 Virginia (8-5) at the same time. Also, George Mason hosts No. 23 Virginia Commonwealth on Friday and Georgetown hosts No. 11 Notre Dame on Saturday.