WINSTON-SALEM, NC - Winston-Salem State quarterback Kameron Smith threw two touchdowns and ran for another, while Maurice Lewis ran for two scores as WSSU (14-0) defeated West Texas A&M 41-18, Saturday in the NCAA Division II National Semi-Finals and earned the coveted trip to play for the National Championship.
West Texas A&M would take the opening kick and Jarrian Rhone would return it all the way to the WSSU 16 yard line. And on the next play, the Buffs quarterback Dustin Vaughn, would have to scramble to the right but found an open receiver in Trevor Hammargren in the endzone for a touchdown, just 20 seconds into the game.
Two series later, WSSU would answer on a quick four play, 76 yard drive, helped by a Buffalo's facemask penalty and highlighted by a Jameze Massey 27 yard rush and capped by Bryce Sherman's 32 yard scamper to pull the Rams to within one, 7-6, after WSSU missed the PAT.
WSSU would hold the Buffs on the next series after a sustained drive came up short, and forced a 40 yard field goal attempt that would sail wide right.'
Winston-Salem State would try to capitalize on the next drive, but the six play drive would come to a halt when the Rams where stopped on a fourth down play, and had to turn the ball over on downs.
But the Rams' Justin Wilkerson would pick off WTAM on the next play, his second interception in consecutive weeks from the defensive end position, and the Rams would make the Buffs pay for the mistake.
A solid mix of run and pass from the confident WSSU team saw them march 43 yards in eight plays, capped off by a Maurice Lewis one yard run to put Winston-Salem State up 13-7.
As been the case all season, and throughout the playoffs, the WSSU defense was stout and control the West Texas offense for most of the game. They would force another Buffalo punt giving the ball back to the Rams offense that was now starting to feel the momentum swing mightily in their favor.
Kameron Smith would march the Rams down the field again on the next possession with passes to Jamal Williams for 25 yards, followed by a 15 yard completion to Jahuann Butler. Smith would hook up with Butler for a 14 yard completion before he would find Jameze Massey open in the middle fo the field on a screen pass and, and Massey would do the rest splitting the defense from 21 yards out for another WSSU touchdown giving the Rams a 20-7 lead.
The Rams Larry Hearne would come up with his fifth interception of the season on West Texas' next series, but the Rams drive would come up short but send the team into the locker room with the momentum and the lead.
The WSSU Rams would get ball first in the second half and looked to really try to put the game out of reach early as they would embark on an eight play drive, but would eventually stall and Kameron Smith would be sacked on a fourth down attempt, turning the ball back over to West Texas A&M.
The Buffalos would respond with their longest drive of the night, a 13 play, 58 yard drive that would be finished off with a Sergio Castillo 29 yard field goal to pull within 10, at 20-10 with 6:06 to play in third quarter.
Winston-Salem State would answer right back on their next series, starting with a 36 yard connection from Kameron Smith to Jameze Massey, followed by a 10 yard rush by Maurice Lewis. Smith would also find Jamal Williams for 18 yards before back to back runs of four and nine yard by Maurice Lewis would put the Rams back in the endzone and back up 17 at 27-10.
By the end of the third quarter everyone in attendance dressed in their scarlet red and white could sense what was on the horizon.
The WSSU defense would keep the pressure on West Texas' quarterback and forced a punt back to the Rams early in the fourth quarter, and the Rams would make them pay for not getting the score closer.
Rushes by Bryce Sherman and Maurice Lewis, followed by passes from Smith to Tehvyn Brantley and finally to Jamal Williams from 21 yards away put the Rams back in the endzone with a commanding 34-10 lead.
WTAM's Dustin Vaughn would march the Buffs back down the field, covering 61 yards in 11 plays and Khiry Robinson would find paydirt from 13 yards out to cut the lead to 34-18 with 7:36 remaining.
But once again, Kameron Smith would lead the Rams on a sustained drive of nine plays covering 88 yards.
Maurice Lewis would start the drive with back to back runs of five and 15 yards, before Bryce Sherman would pick up 15 yards on a run. And as apropos as can be, Kameron Smith would find the endzone one last time in Bowman Gray Stadium on a 23 yard run to close out the scoring to give the Rams the 41-18 win.
Kameron Smith threw for 233 yards on 15 of 23 passing with two touchdowns and Maurice Lewis rushed for 118 yards and two scores. Bryce Sherman added 73 rushing yards and a score.
Jamal Williams finished with 99 yards receiving and one touchdown on five catches, while Juhuann Butler had five catches for 53 yards. Jameze Massey had two catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Malcolm Rowe and Carlos Fields each finished with 10 tackles, with Fields also picking off one pass. Daniel Mungin added seven tackles and Michael Ford added four tackles. 10 other Rams had two tackles each. Justin Wilkerson added a sack and an interception, while Donnie Owens added 1.5 sacks as did Mareece Harris. Larry Hearne add an interception to go with his two tackles.
For the West Texas A&M Buffaloes, Dustin Vaughan threw for 169 yards and a touchdown, and Khiry Robinson ran for 137 yards and a score. Sergio Castillo hit a 29-yard field goal for the Buffs.
Winston-Salem State will face Valdosta State in the Division II championship game next Saturday in Florence, Ala. The game will be televised "live" on ESPN2 at 1:00pm eastern standard time.