WINSTON-SALEM, NC – WSSU backup quarterback, Anthony Carrothers, passed for 332 yards and three touchdowns, , while Maurice Lewis rushed for 158 yards and two scores as the #2 Winston-Salem state University Rams buried the #15 Shippensburg Red Raiders 37-14 in the second round of the NCAA DII playoffs today in Bowman Gray Stadium.
With the win, #2 Winston-Salem State (12-0) will host #11 Indiana University of Pennsylvania next week in the Super Region One championship game. IUP defeated #3 New Haven, 17-14 on Saturday afternoon.
Winston-Salem State opened the scoring when Maurice Lewis capped a 3 play, 70 yard drive with a 49 yard touchdown run to give the Rams an early 7-0 lead.
Shippensburg came right back and matched down the field, but their field goal attempt was blocked by WSSU's Malcolm Rowe.
Shippensburg would get on the board early in the second quarter when the Rams Anthony Carrothers was picked off by the Red Raiders Brian Sourber and returned 63 yards for the score. SU's PAT attempt was blocked, and the Rams held on to a 7-6.
It was then all WSSU Rams, as they would go on to score 21 unanswered in the second quarter.
The Rams came back on their next possession and Carrothers wasted no time finding paydirt, as he connected with Jameze Massey for a 69 yard pass and catch for a score.
The two teams would each punt, on their next series, but when the Red Raiders got the ball back, WSSU's stingy defense stepped up to the plate again, as James Hickman intercepted Zach Zulli's pass and returned it to the SU one yard line.
Maurice Lewis would cross the goal line for anther Rams score on the next play, pushing WSSU's lead to 21-6.
Two plays later, Zulli would be picked off again, this time by WSSU'a Larry Hearne, who made a Sportscenter Top 10 one handed
catch to give the ball back to the Rams.
The Rams drive stalled and the Rams were forced to punt, but the WSSU defense was too strong and forced another three and out for Shippenburg.
One play later, Carrothers would find Massey again, this time from 33 yards out for another score to give the Rams a 28-6 advantage.
But a special team error by Winston-Salem State on the ensuing kickoff would put Shippensburg in prime position to score, as Blair Brooks returned the kickoff 86 yards to the Rams' six yard line.
Two plays Later, Zulli would find Trevor Harmon in the back of the endzone for a score.
WSSU would take a 28-14 lead into the locker room at the half.
Winston-Salem State would add nine more points in the third quarter on a Landen Thayer 31 yuard field goal, and an Anthony Carrothers to Jeffry Chandler four yard pass for a touchdown for the final score of 37-14.
"Turned out to be a great day to play football", said Connell Maynor, WSSU head coach. "We were a little worried about the weather, but it turned out to be nice and sunny."
"We knew they had a good football team and we prepared and did the little things, and our guys were ready to play today", said Maynor.
"Anthony (Carrothers) played a great game today for his first start in two years, throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns", added Maynor. "He proved he was a winner and a champion and came back making plays after throwing a pick six."
"I think everyone who was at the game, and who is in this room knows who has the best defense in DII football. There is no question about it. We have the best defense, and those guys have been proving it all year. A lot of people thought those guys were going to get 45 put on them, and they really didn't get any points put on them", says Maynor. "We gave up seven on the interception and then the long kickoff return set up another score on the six yard line."
Offensively for the WSSU Rams, Maurice Lewis rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns, while Anthony Carrothers paced the Rams air attack completing 19 of 37 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns. He was picked off once and sacked three times.
Jameze Massey had another monster game, with eight catches for 167 yards and two touchdowns, while Jahuann Butler had five catches for 123 yards.
Defensively, All-CIAA linebacker and co-captain, Carlos Fields finished with eight tackles, while Darryl Pulliam had five tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery. Malcolm Rowe, Barry Tripp and Daniel Mungin each had four tackles, with Rowe also having a blocked kick, while Tripp also recorded a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick. Donnie Owens and Marcus Campbell each had one sack, and Larry Hearne and James Hickman also had one interception each.
The WSSU Rams defense forced Shippensburg and their Harlon Hill finalist quarterback into a season high five turnovers; a season high eight punts; and their second lowest offensive yardage total of the season with 280 yards.
Meanwhile the Rams offense put up 525 yards of total offense.
Winston-Salem State will now host Indiana University of Pa., for the Super Region One Title next Saturday, at 12:00 pm at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem.