In a time when spread offenses dominate the college, and now high school, football landscapes, there is still room for a good, old-school ground game.
The Bowsher Rebels parlayed their smash-mouth running attack into a 20-0 shutout of visiting Rogers on Thursday night and set up a showdown for the City League championship next Friday at Start.
“For the last fours weeks that’s what we’ve worked on — running the ball,” Bowsher coach Craig Lubinski said. “The offensive line’s come a long way. They’re doing a fantastic job. Our backs are finally healthy, and they’re doing a nice job running the ball.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to be City champs, and we took it one step at a time. Now, the goal is sitting right in front of us, so we have to get after it.”
Bowsher (5-4, 4-0 CL) rode the legs of running back Khane Collins (19 carries, 127 yards, touchdown) and 6-foot, 230-pound powerhouse back Mark Washington (18 carries, 91 yards, two TDs), and the Rebels’ defense did the rest, yielding just 122 total yards to a Rams’ squad depleted by suspensions.
Rogers played for the second week without eight starters, who were sidelined for the remainder of the season for disciplinary reasons.
The sub-filled Rams lineup refused to roll over, however, and made Bowsher earn its yardage.
In a first half that saw four turnovers (three by Rogers), the lone scoring drive was executed by the Rebels after an interception by Bowsher’s Phoenix Reid.
Reid picked off a pass from Rogers quarterback Dominic Jones (4-of-10 passing, 52 yards) and returned it 33 yards to the Rams’ 18. A face-mask penalty during the return set Bowsher up at Rogers’ 9.
Rebel backs Steve Johnson and Collins ran for a yard each before Washington bulled his way over left guard and carried a clump of would-be tacklers into the end zone for the touchdown with 3:53 left in the half.
“I feel like, if I get past the first level, the second level will have to deal with me and I just keep my feet moving,” Washington said.
Rebels quarterback Mac Jewell (3-of-7 passing, 41 yards) then hit Kenny Jones on a two-point conversion pass, and Bowsher would take an 8-0 lead to the break.
Bowsher used two monster drives in the third and fourth quarters to get its other scores.
The third-quarter march covered 79 yards on 12 plays and took 6:34 off the clock. Collins capped with a one-yard plunge with 1:25 left in the third.
“We got a lot of third-down conversions,” Collins said. “The defense really stepped up and basically got our offense going to the right direction. We got the yards when we needed to. We wanted it and we got it.”
The fourth-quarter drive went 63 yards on 13 plays, consumed 7:27, and was closed by Washington’s one-yard TD with 4:24 remaining in the game.
“The guys really stepped up tonight,” Rams coach Keith Dawson said of his renovated lineup. “Initially it was a shellshock to them, but the kids just reached inside tonight and said, 'We gotta do what we gotta do.’"
“We knew coming in [Washington] was tough, so we kept interchanging the kids. It’s tiring to contain that young man. Bowsher did a nice job running the ball."