WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (4-2, 2-1 CIAA) had their hands full, but the team was up to the challenge when the team held off the feisty Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls (0-6, 0-3 CIAA) in the team's Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Southern Division opener for both teams. After jumping out to an early lead, the Rams fended off a furious fourth quarter comeback effort by the Golden Bulls on a damp and rainy Saturday afternoon.
"It was a big win. It was a much needed win for the program heading into the direction of trying to achieve our goals," WSSU head coach Kienus Boulware said after the game. "There's no such thing as an ugly win. Any win is a great win. Right now with where we are, we've got to keep pressing forward."
The Rams combined some big plays with some key defensive stops to claim their win and began their quest for a seventh consecutive CIAA Southern Division title on a high note. As a team, the Rams totaled 267 yards of total offense with 183 rushing yards on a rainy day at Bowman Gray Stadium. WSSU senior running back Kerrion Moore continued to be the workhorse for the Rams with 137 yards on 23 carries for the Rams while junior running back Rod Tinsley completed eight-of-16 passes for 84 yards in the game. Defensively, WSSU was led by junior defensive end Tyron Roberts, who continued his strong play of late with eight tackles (three solo), including a half-tackle for a loss. Junior linebacker Jayron Rankins added seven total tackles (three solo), including a sack for 10 yards and 62-yard fumble return.
The Rams took control of the game early with a strong first half. The team opened the game on a high note when the Rams scored a touchdown on the opening drive. The score came on a nine-play, 52-yard drive that included 22 rushing yards from Moore and was capped by a three-yard touchdown run by the senior. With the PAT kick, the Rams went ahead 7-0. After stalling the Golden Bulls on the ensuing drive, the Rams had a miscue of their own on their next drive. A bad snap on a WSSU punt was batted out of the endzone for a safety and gave the Golden Bulls their first score of the day and left the Rams on top, 7-2. Moore would once again step up for the Rams when he recorded a 22-yard touchdown run to put the Rams ahead 14-2 after the PAT kick with 14:50 left in the second quarter. The senior would not stop there when he recorded a 48 -yard touchdown run with 13:38 left to play. The missed PAT kick left the team on top, 20-2. Johnson C. Smith wasted little time answering when the Golden Bulls responded with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that cut the WSSU lead down to 11 points, 20-9. From there, the neither team would score and left the Rams with a 20-9 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.
While much of the second half turned out to feature the two teams' defensive squads, the Rams and Golden Bulls would turn on their scoring efforts in the fourth quarter. The third quarter was a defensive standoff for both teams. The quarter was highlighted by an interception from sophomore Daryus Skinner while neither team managed to put any points on the scoreboard for the quarter. JCSU would strike first with a 31-yard touchdown pass and PAT kick that cut the WSSU lead down to four points, 20-16 with 13:51 left to play. The Rams would put some distance between themselves and the Golden Bulls when the team turned a 62-yard fumble recovery from Rankins into a two-yard touchdown rush from Tinsley. With the PAT kick, the Rams went ahead, 27-16 with 8:45 left to play. Johnson C. Smith would not go away when they got the ball on an interception from Tinsley and scored a six-yard touchdown with 3:19 left to play. The Rams defense would hold up as they stalled the Golden Bulls on the two-point conversion attempt and left the Rams on top, 27-22. From there, the WSSU defense would put the clamps on Golden Bulls to hold them scoreless for the remainder of the game and claimed the win. Skinner's second interception of the game would put the final end to the game.
With the win, the Rams improve to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in CIAA play. More importantly, the Rams improve to 1-0 in CIAA Southern Division play. The Rams will return to action next weekend when the team heads to Raleigh, N.C. to take on the Saint Augustine's Falcons in a 1:00 p.m. For more information on Rams football, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.