Jan. 5, 2007
By George Mauzy
Ohio University senior running back Voncarie Owens, a native of Taylorsville, Miss., is hoping a little home cooking will lead to a win when the Bobcats take on the University of Southern Mississippi in the Jan. 7 GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
As a standout running back at Collins High School in Mississippi, he led the football team to back-to-back state titles on his way to earning all-state honors. Owens also lettered in track and baseball.
"I just want a win when we go to Mobile," Owens says. "This game is a dream come true because it is close to home, and I played against and with many of the Southern Miss players in high school and junior college."
Playing in front of family and friends in Mobile will be a thrill for Owens.
"I have a lot of people coming to the game," Owens says. "In fact, my church is bringing a bus to the game and I will have all types of family and friends there."
After five games this season, a bowl game looked like a long shot with the Bobcats sitting on a 2-3 record and three straight losses, including one at home to Bowling Green.
After the Bowling Green setback on Sept. 30, though, the Bobcats won seven straight games to end the regular season. Owens says the reason for the turnaround was simple.
"We told ourselves to stay together and take it one game at a time. After each win, as a team we would say 'one-and-oh.' That kept us focused on each game and not thinking about the past games," he said.
This season in 12 games, Owens has rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries. He also has two catches for 13 yards and two kickoff returns for 40 yards.
"VO has maintained an excellent team attitude and contributes on special teams as well as running the ball," said Tim Albin, offensive coordinator and running backs coach. "I recruited him out of Mississippi, so I'm excited for him that he gets a chance to play near home in front of family and friends."
Owens has another tie to Southern Miss. His girlfriend, Jerrilyn Gillum, is a student at the institution located in Hattiesburg, Miss.
"I live in Taylorsville, but when I'm home I spend most of my time visiting her at Southern Miss, which is about 45 minutes from my house," Owens says.
Owens, the son of Dwight Owens and Lesa Barnes, is one of several Bobcat players who hail from the Gulfport area. He joins junior safety Ervin Jackson from Kiln, Miss., and sophomore cornerback Dustin Tatum from Lafayette, La., as players who live within a short drive to Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
The GMAC Bowl will mark Ohio University's first football bowl appearance since 1968 and will be televised nationally on ESPN. For more information on the game or the Bobcats, visit ohiobobcats.com.
George Mauzy is a media specialist with University Communications and Marketing.