WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- #13 Winston-Salem State's Rudy Johnson found freshman Chase Powell down the left sideline and Powell powered his way into the endzone with :59 remaining, to give the Rams a 28-24 come from behind victory over Shaw University Saturday at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem.
With the win, WSSU moves to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in CIAA play, while Shaw falls to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in CIAA play.
Both teams were chippy in pregame warmups, and the game even started with a 15 yard penalty on Shaw for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Winston-Salem State got on the scoreboard first, midway through the first quarter, when Rudy Johnson found Graham Love in the corner of the endzone to push WSSU out in front, 7-0 after a successful PAT by William Johnson. The score capped a five play 24 yard drive.
The Rams #1 ranked defense was dominate on this day, and early on, the Bears seemed to not be able to block the talented defensive line of the Rams, as WSSU sacked and stayed in the Bears backfield.
WSSU would find paydirt again three minutes later, after the Rams defense held Shaw to a quick three and out. This time, on a fourth and six, Rudy Johnson would find a wide open Chase Powell behind the Bears secondary for a 36 yards touchdown. William Johnson would convert the PAT to give the Rams a 14-0 lead.
Midway through the second quarter Winston-Salem State would strike again, as on the last play of an eleven play, 48 yard drive, Rudy Johnson would find Eric Williams open on a quick slant in the endzone for another score giving WSSU a 21-0 advantage, and it looked like the route was on.
After a good kickoff return by Shaw, two plays later Trevius Folston found David Jordan open for a 32 yard touchdown, cutting the Rams lead to 21-7.
Winston-Salem State would have the opportunity to put points on the board once more before the half, as William Johnson would connect on a 38 yard field goal with 39 seconds left. But Johnson would be roughed on the play, and WSSU head coach Connell Maynor would choose to take the three points off the board, giving the Rams a first down from the Shaw 8 yard line.
Maurice Lewis would be stopped short of the goal line on consecutive running plays, and with nine second left, Rudy Johnson would fire a strike to Kenneth Patterson. But Patterson would be flagged for an offensive pass interference penalty, and with less than 10 seconds remaining, it would force a 10 second runoff and end the half with WSSU leading 21-7.
Neither team would be able to make any sustainable drives in the third quarter, other than the Shaw Bears, who would have a 40 yard, nine play drive on their second series, that ended with a Andres Magallon 27 yard field goal.
Early in the fourth quarter, Shaw would pull even closer, as they would take the second half kickoff and march 88 yards in 13 plays, helped out by a huge pass interference call, and Trevius Folston would find David Johnson for a 18 yard touchdown pass, cutting the Rams lead to 21-17.
On the Rams next series, the momentum would swing and not in WSSU's direction, as Rudy Johnson would be picked off for the second time by Shaw's Darnell Evans, but this time Evens would return the interception 88 yards for a pick six, giving Shaw a 24-21 lead with 8:18 remaining.
With 3:19 left, and the WSSU faithful fans cheering them on, the Rams would embark on one of the most important drivers of the year.
On second and six, Rudy Johnson would find Kenneth Patterson for a 25 yard pass, and a facemask penalty by Shaw gave WSSU 15 more yards moving the ball to the Shaw 38 yard line.
After a Shaw timeout with 1:47 left, and WSSU facing a fourth and three, Rudy Johnson would find Chase Powell for a seven yard slant, giving the Rams another first down. And on third and three from the 17 yard line, Johnson would hook up with Powell for the touchdown and game winner, sending the WSSU fans into a frenzy.
Shaw would have one more opportunity with less than a minute to play, and they quickly moved the ball into WSSU territory, but on fourth down Folston pass would be incomplete, giving Winston-Salem State the win.
It was a game marred by penalties, as WSSU was flagged 15 times for 151 yards and Shaw was hit 16 times for 172 yards. The Rams finished with 342 yards of total offense, while the Bears finished with 238 yards.
Offensively for the Rams, Rudy Johnson led the rushing attack with 71 yards on 18 carries, and Maurice Lewis rushed 15 times for 56 yards. Joshua Glisson had six yards on four carries and Chase Powell had one carry for one yard.
Rudy Johnson finished 23 of 32 for 208 yards and four touchdowns while also throwing two interceptions.
Chase Powell led the receiving corps, with seven catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns, while Kenneth Patterson finished with four catches for 50 yards. Maurice Lewis also finished with four catches
(4 yards) and Graham Love had three receptions for 17 yards and one score. Jerry Chandler and Eric Williams had two catches each with Chandler going for 14 yards and Williams having five yards and one touchdown. Joshua Glisson had one catch for 28 yards.
Freshman punter/kicker, William Johnson had a solid afternoon with a 33.2 yards per punt average, however, three of his punts were downed inside the 20 yard line. He also converted four of four point after attempts.
Defensively, Carlos Fields led the Rams with eight tackles and a half a tackle for a loss, while Alfy Hill and Daniel Mungin had seven tackles each. Hill also had one sack, 3.0 tackles for loss yards and an interception, and Mungin also had a half a tackle for a loss. Casey Davenport recorded four tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry, while Jerome Junior had four tackles and a half a tackle for a loss. Donnie Owens also added four tackles to go with one sack, 2.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Four Rams had three tackles each, with Everett Proctor getting an interception, Jermaine Kelser picking up one tackle for a loss and one forced fumble, and Michael Bloomfield picking up a sack, a tackle for a loss and one forced fumble. Danny Bunn also finished with three tackles. Larry Hearne had two tackles, as did John Rizor who also picked up a half a sack and a half a tackle for a loss.
Winston-Salem State's win sets up a showdown with Fayetteville State in its regular-season finale on Saturday, November 9th at Bowman Gray Stadium. The winner will clinch the Southern Division title and play in the CIAA title game versus the Trojans of Virginia State on November 16th in Bowman Gray Stadium.