ARLINGTON, Texas -- It took a couple of position changes during his brief time at Arlington Bowie for Devin Williams to find a home.
But Williams is settled in now at free safety, where his playmaking ability helped the Volunteers defeat New Orleans Edna Karr, 36-6, in the opening game of the Kirk Herbstreit Classic on Monday at Cowboys Stadium.
Williams forced two fumbles, the first setting up the touchdown that finally gave Bowie some breathing room and the second blunting Edna Karr’s best scoring chance of the second half.
“My primary job is to make sure nobody gets deep,’’ Williams said. “But against a team like we played today, I can come up and make plays against the run.’’
When the 6-foot-2, 183-pounder found his way to Bowie as a junior transfer from Alabama last year, he was a defensive end. Next came a move to linebacker, and finally coach Kenny Perry saw something that convinced him that Williams was suited to be his free safety.
“He’s such a smart kid,’’ Perry said. “I’ve been telling people about him. Devin does what is called and he’s good about not getting too close where they can run by him.’’
With Bowie (2-0) leading 15-6 in the early minutes of the third quarter, a solid hit by Williams knocked the ball from the grasp of Edna Karr running back Rashad Watson. Bowie linebacker Jaquirous Jackson scooped it up and returned it 39 yards to set up a 5-yard scoring run by quarterback Kolby Listenbee for a 22-6 lead.
“I hit the ball with my helmet,’’ Williams said. “I didn’t know he fumbled until I heard the crowd yelling.’’
Edna Karr responded with its longest sustained drive of the game. But on first-and-goal from the Bowie 5, Williams stripped the ball from quarterback Jazmen Riley and eventually recovered himself.
Bowie put the game away with a long touchdown drive.
The Vols defense forced six Edna Karr turnovers, including an 84-yard interception return by cornerback Robert Zenon in the closing moments.
“We didn’t play up to our standards overall,'' said Perry, "but our defense kept us in it with two goal-line stands.’’
Offensively, Russell Hansbrough ran for a pair of first-half touchdowns, including a 70-yarder on an option pitch, and finished with 172 yards on 13 carries.
Listenbee rushed for 65 yards and threw for 28.
Edna Karr (0-2), last year’s Louisiana Class 4A state runner-up, scored in the opening quarter on a 67-yard pass from Riley to Rasheed Davis.