Story by Matthew Yoder
The scoreboard read 51-21 at the conclusion of the game, but for the Chincoteague Ponies and their fans the loss was more directly experienced and intimate.
Star running back and senior Dakota Bowden suffered a broken leg in the second half of the Aug. 29 game against Windsor, after having tallied more than 100 yards on the ground and scoring one touchdown.
“It sounded like a shotgun,” said Chincoteague coach Tony Nock of Bowden’s broken tibia and fibula.
Amidst fans audibly overcome with emotion Bowden said to Nock, “I think I just broke my leg.”
But for a team and player fighting to get back into the game with opponent Windsor, Bowden followed by asking, “coach, did I get the first down?”
For Nock, the spirit of his star summed up the evening.
“The score was not indicative of how we played,” Nock said.
“The kids played their hearts out and held their own with a 2A school,” said Nock.
Nock described some tackling miscues and missed opportunities on offense, but admitted “as soon as Bowden got hurt, the kids glazed over.”
Understandably so; Bowden was a dynamic player who drew the praise of assistant coach Contrel Brown.
“He was amazing, he can switch directions, and it was fun to watch him run,” said Brown.
When Bowden exited the game the score was 38-13 and the coaching staff was impressed that their team rallied to score after such a horrific situation.
Nock spoke of team unity prior to the season and in a tremendous show of support Bowden’s teammates raised over three thousand dollars at a car wash last Saturday to raise funds for his medical costs.
For Bowden, the prognosis appears positive. He has already resumed walking and baseball has been discussed as part of his future.
For the Ponies, the challenge becomes replacing the irreplaceable and soldiering on with a roster strong in heart, but lacking numbers.
Next up is a home matchup with Snow Hill, a team eager to enter the win column.
Bowden is visibly in the heart of his coaches, but the game must go on, and coach Nock is first to recognize this.
“We’re gonna regroup. It’s football,” said Nock.