Rams To Face #17/#18 Hampton University Pirates On Saturday In Virginia

Oct. 24, 2006

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - The Winston-Salem State University football team will complete their three-game road trip streak on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 pm at Armstrong Stadium in Hampton, VA as they face the nationally-ranked Pirates of Hampton University at "Hampton Homecoming 2006."  WSSU is riding a one-game win streak while the Pirates 17-game MEAC win streak was snapped last weekend.


Kickoff...2:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time.


Venue...Armstrong Stadium, with a capacity of 17,000 in Hampton, Virginia.


The Event...The ninth game of the 2006 season for the Rams, this weekend's contest will mark the third consecutive week that the Rams have been away from the friendly confines of Bowman Gray Stadium.  The contest will mark the first meeting between the two teams since WSSU's 40-6 loss to the Pirates in Hampton, VA that came during the 2000 season.


Television Coverage...There is no national television coverage for this contest versus the Pirates.  However, the game may air on RAM TV on campus at WSSU in a tape-delay format pending the resolution of logistical television/filming issues.  For additional information, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations.   


Radio Coverage...This weekend's contest will be available to listeners in the greater Winston-Salem, NC area live on WSNC, 90.5 FM with Maurice "Big Mo" Stanfield calling all the play-by-play action and L.A. Batchelor providing the color commentary, as well as live nationally on the internet at www.WSSU.edu by clicking on the link: "Listen to WSNC."  The Pirates will air the game live on WHOV 88.1 FM with Rob Dixon calling the play-by-play.


Live Statistical Broadcast Online...A live statistical broadcast of the game, utilizing CSTV's "Gametracker" statistical software will be available on the Official Website of WSSU Athletics at www.WSSURAMS.com and Hampton University will facilitate a live statistical broadcast at www.HamptonPirates.com.


Weather Forecast...Saturday's contest is set to be played in good weather as the forecast calls for high temperatures of 64 degrees with a low of 42 degrees and only a 10% chance of precipitation.  Humidity is slated to be 75% with winds out of the south at 6 miles per hour with a UV index of four (moderate).  Clocks will be set back at midnight and will not effect sunrise and sunset as the sun will set at 6:12 pm E.S.T.


Setting The Scene...The match up between the Rams and the Pirates will mark the first meeting between the two teams since the 2000 season when WSSU fell in defeat in Hampton, VA by the score of 40-6.  WSSU is riding a one-game win streak after hammering Savannah State University by the score of 38-6 at Ted A. Wright Stadium in Savannah, GA last weekend at SSU's Homecoming 2006.  The Pirates are coming off of their first loss of the season as they fell in defeat to the Bulldogs of South Carolina State University by the score of 13-6 last weekend as the Pirates' 17-game MEAC win streak ended.


Next Up...The Rams will return home to face the Saint Augustine's College Falcons at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC at 2:00 pm on November 4, 2006.  The contest will mark the Rams' final home game of the 2006 season.


2005 Results...The Rams are coming off of a 2005 season in which they posted a 6-4 record overall (6-1 CIAA) and narrowly missed a CIAA title-game appearance.  The Pirates finished 2005 with an 11-1 record and cruised to the MEAC Championship.  The Pirates lost to #12 Richmond in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs by the score of 38-10 and earned Offensive Player, Defensive Player, and Coach of the Year honors in the MEAC.


Rankings...The Rams are not ranked.  The Pirates are ranked 17th in the nation in the Sports Network Poll and are ranked 18th in the CSN Coaches Poll.  Prior to the loss to South Carolina State the Pirates had been ranked as high as 11th in 2006.


The Last Meeting...This is first meeting between the Rams and the Pirates since 2000 when the Rams were defeated by 34 points (40-6) in Hampton, VA.  The two teams are renewing a once-fierce rivalry that dates back to the two teams' membership in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).


The Series...Winston-Salem State University leads the all-time series by the mark of 14-8-1.  The Rams have lost the last two contests versus Hampton (2000 and 1992) with the last WSSU win coming in 1991 when the Rams won 20-6 at home in Winston-Salem, NC.  However, the Rams have won three of the last five head-to-head matchups.


A Win This Week Would...

            ...give the Rams their fourth win of the 2006 season and move Winston-Salem State to 4-5 overall.

            ...increase the Rams' win streak to two games.

            ...give WSSU head coach Kermit Blount his 81st win at WSSU pulling him into a tie with Thomas "Tank" Conrad for a second place tie on the WSSU all-time win list (behind only Bill Hayes with an all-time best 89 wins).

            ...earn the Rams their fourth win over an NCAA Division I-AA opponent this season (WSSU has defeated North Carolina A&T, Howard and Savannah State already this season).

            ...earn the Rams their fourth win as an NCAA Division I-AA program.

            ...drop the Pirates to 7-2 this season.

            ...pull current WSSU head coach Kermit Blount's overall record versus Hampton to 1-1.

                        ...earn WSSU their fourth win over a Division I opponent during the tenure of Director of Athletics, Dr. Chico Caldwell.

            ...give the Rams their first win over a team from the state of Virginia Since WSSU's 31-0 drubbing of Virginia Union in October of 2005.

...give the Rams their first win on the road in the State of Virginia since a win over Virginia Union in Richmond, VA that came in 2004.


A Loss This Week Would...

            ...drop Winston-Salem State University to 3-6 on the season.

            ...snap the Pirates' one-game losing streak.

            ...give WSSU head coach Kermit Blount his 63rd loss, putting him only 16 losses shy of the WSSU all-time loss record held by Thomas "Tank" Conrad (79 total).

            ...keep the Rams with only three wins versus Division I opponents since the start of the Rams' transition to NCAA Division I status (with wins over NC A&T, Howard, and Savannah State).

            ...move Hampton University to 8-1 on the season.

            ...earn Hampton head coach Joseph Taylor his third career head coaching victory over WSSU.

            ...drop WSSU head coach Kermit Blount's record versus Hampton to 0-2

            ...snap the Rams one-game win streak


Freshman Five...Freshman running back Brandon McRae (#26) leads the Rams with five touchdowns, all coming by way of the ground.  The last time that a freshman led the Rams in scoring was during the 2004 season when true freshman Jed Bines led the team with 74 points.  Bines is academically ineligible this season and is slated to return in 2007.


Trickeration...Unconventional is something that WSSU head coach Kermit Blount is not.  However, the Rams have incorporated trick plays into their repertoire this season.  WSSU has run "The Reverse" three times, and has even tried the "Halfback Pass" once this season.  The Rams were unsuccessful as Tionti Powell's pass fell incomplete on that particular halfback pass.


Snapping The Streak...The Pirates are traveling in uncharted waters as they are riding a one-game win streak.  Following a loss last weekend, the Pirates saw their 17-game MEAC win streak snapped.  The Pirates have still won 18 of their last 20 games and will be hosting the Rams for Homecoming.


Understanding The Injury Chart...The Rams use the National Football League's injury chart model which separates injuries into four categories: (1) "Out" which indicates that a player will not play in the upcoming game and will not be dressed for the contest. (2) "Doubtful" which indicates that a player will have only a 25% chance of playing. (3) "Questionable" which indicates that a player will have a 50% chance of playing, and (4) "Probable" which indicates that the player has a 75% chance of playing.


Lost To Injury...The Rams have lost five players to injury already this season, most of whom are likely not to return this year.  Most recently WSSU lost defensive lineman Detron Hart to a cervical sprain.  Hart was injured in the game versus Florida A&M.  WSSU lost starting defensive lineman Quentin Jones to a knee injury that he sustained in the game versus South Carolina State University.  After undergoing surgery on the injured knee, Jones was given a rehabilitation time of nine to 12 months and is lost for the season.  Prior to Jones' injury WSSU lost starting wide receiver Michael Scarbrough, Jr. (redshirt sophomore) to a left tibia fracture.  Scarbrough broke his left leg in practice and is out for at least another four to six weeks, and is expected not to return in 2006.  He is currently in a walking boot and is moving around without crutches.  Brandon Dow, WSSU's projected starting free safety was lost for six weeks after breaking his right wrist while making a tackle in practice.  The injury required surgery and he has since rejoined the team, but has yet to play since being medically cleared by WSSU team physicians.  WSSU has also lost Brandon McLellan and Lonnie Teasley to knee injuries as both are recovering from mid-summer surgeries.  McLellan is recovering from patella tendon reconstruction on his left knee while Teasley is recovering from ACL reconstruction on his right knee.  Their returns this season are doubtful.

DeRon Middleton has 23 tackles and an interception for the Rams through eight games in 2006 (photo courtesy of Mark Sutton)


WSSU Players To Watch...Junior quarterback #4 Monte Purvis (leads team in passing); senior tight end #81 Stan Wright (is being watched closely by the NFL scouts); redshirt freshman running back #26 Brandon McRae (leads the team in rushing with 439 yards); senior wide receiver #8 Brad Herring (has a catch in nine of the last 11 games); junior linebacker #33 Darrian Bynum (eighth on the team in tackles with 24 tackles); junior linebacker #45 Thaddeus Griffin (first on team in tackles with 61); junior right spur/cornerback #10 De'Ron Middleton (one interception, one fumble recovery); and senior left defensive end #90 Jason Holman.


12th MEAC Member...On July 20, 2006, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) announced that it will expand its membership to 12 members next year, as the league voted to admit Winston-Salem State University into the league beginning in 2007-08.   "We are elated to welcome Winston-Salem into the MEAC family", said Commissioner Dennis Thomas. "Obviously we think that WSSU is an outstanding academic institution with an excellent athletics program."  Winston-Salem State University is currently in the second year of its reclassification from Division II to NCAA Division I status. WSSU will begin a full MEAC schedule in all sports beginning in 2007-08. However they will not be eligible for MEAC Championship play until the 2010-11 football season.  The addition of WSSU marks the first expansion for the MEAC since 1997, when Norfolk State University became the 11th member of the conference.


Withdrawn From School...WSSU kicker Marvin Umanzor missed an extra point versus Howard University running his streak of games with a missed kick to four.  Umanzor was two of seven this season kicking field goals and had missed three of his 12 point-after tries this season.  He withdrew from school the day before the Rams were scheduled to travel to Daytona Beach, Florida to face the Bethune-Cookman College Wildcats.  Since then Chad Oakley, the Rams' fifth-year senior punter has taken over the placekicking duties.


A Perfect Three-For-Three...In addition to punting, the Rams' Chad Oakley has inherited the placekicking duties vacated by Marvin Umanzor following his withdrawal from school.  Oakley has turned in a perfect three-for-three kicking performance since inheriting the duties two weekends ago as he has tallied field goals of 27, 29, and 48 yards, recording his first points since his senior year in high school.  He has also made all five of his point after touchdowns.


Going To Have A New Home...The Winston-Salem State University Rams will have a new home in 2007.  On Wednesday, August 30, 2006 the Rams broke ground on a new 12,000 square-foot field house that will house all of the WSSU Athletic Department offices, a rehabilitation and sports medicine center, a new weight room, and a press deck with a high-definition video board.  The $4.2 million dollar project is a collaborative effort between Winston-Salem State University and the City of Winston-Salem (the Winston-Salem Sports and Entertainment Complex).


Its About The Rush...The Rams are 1-4 in 2006 when they do not have a player record at least 100 yards rushing in a contest.  Last season the Rams posted a 6-4 record when a running back had at least 100 yards rushing.  WSSU's game versus Catawba was the first time in 13 games that the Rams did not have a 100-yard rusher, snapping a streak that dated back to the 2004 season.  Tionti Powell was the Rams' leading rusher with 59 yards on 13 carries in that streak-snapping game.  The Rams recorded their first 100-yard rusher of the season versus South Carolina State as running back Tionti Powell eclipsed the 100-yard rushing plateau.  This past weekend versus Savannah State the Rams' saw Brandon McRae record his first 100-yard rushing game and narrowly missed having two running backs crack 100-yards as Tionti Powell recorded 99 yards on the ground. 


To The House...Corey Swinnie's 35-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown versus Howard University marked the first time that the Rams' defense scored since De'Ron Middleton's 74-yard interception return for a touchdown against Saint Augustine's College on October 29, 2005.  It also marked the first time since the Rams' transition to Division I that the Rams returned a fumble for a touchdown.


Its Been Awhile...The last time that the Rams defeated a team that was ranked in the AFCA Coaches' Poll was during the 2003 season when WSSU defeated then-#19 Fort Valley State University in Macon, GA by the score of 27-21.  Since that time, the Rams have fallen to three ranked opponents.


Only Two...The Rams will play only two non-Division I teams this season as they face off against only Catawba College (lost on August 26 by the score of 21-7) and Saint Augustine's College (November 4).  The Rams will face nine Division I-AA programs this season, including three teams that are currently ranked or receiving votes in the Division I-AA AFCA Coaches' Poll (Hampton and Coastal Carolina who are ranked; SC State who is receiving votes).  WSSU faces four different conferences this season in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (seven times), the Big South (once), the South Atlantic Conference (once), and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (once).  The Rams also faced one independent team in the Tigers of Savannah State University.


A Flag On The Play...The Rams have committed 57 penalties this season, resulting in 481 yards for their opposition.  In the game versus North Carolina A&T, the Rams gave the Aggies three consecutive third-down conversions due to penalties on the same drive resulting in North Carolina A&T's first touchdown of the game.  Versus Florida A&M the Rams gave the Rattlers a key first down due to a roughing the passer call that ultimately resulted in a FAMU touchdown.  Penalties have cost the Rams eight automatic first downs through seven games of the 2006 football season.


More Second-Half Production...The Rams have scored 90 of their 143 total points in the first half of games.  WSSU must get more second-half production if they plan on starting a new win streak this weekend.  The Rams have scored only 53 points in the second half of games this season.


Outside of North Carolina...The Rams' first battle outside of the State of North Carolina was on September 23 as the Rams traveled to Tallahassee, FL to face the Florida A&M University Rattlers.  The trip to Florida was the first of two road contests in the "Sunshine State" for the Rams, with the second being last weekend's contest at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, FL.  The Rams, under Blount, had never faced a team from the State of Florida and WSSU had never played a game in the State of Florida until September 23.  The Rams are currently 0-2 in the state of Florida and are 0-2 versus teams from the State of Florida.  This weekend's contest will mark the fourth trip out of state for WSSU.  The Rams are currently 1-2 outside the state of North Carolina this season, recording their only non-NC win in the state of Georgia (last weekend in Savannah by the score of 38-6).


Sack `Em...Through eight games of the season, the Rams are currently sporting 16 sacks.  William Hayes leads WSSU with five and a half sacks and he is joined Michael Moore and Mario Dawson who have three add two sacks each, respectively.  Four other WSSU roster players have at least a half-sack thus far in 2006.  The Rams have saddled opponents with 76 yards lost on their 16 sacks.


Extending Success...Winston-Salem State University Director of Athletics, Dr. Chico Caldwell announced on September 6, 2006 that the WSSU Department of Athletics has extended the contract of head football coach Kermit Blount for three more years, taking him through the 2010 season.  Blount's current contract took him through the 2007 season and with the extension, will ensure that he remains the head football coach at Winston-Salem State University for the next four seasons.


Kicking For Two Grand?...Senior punter Chad Oakley continues to prove that he is one of the most valuable players on the Rams' roster.  Through eight games, Oakley has kicked 38 punts for 1677 yards for an average of 44.1 yards per kick.  He has recorded seven touch backs, five fair catches, and has pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line seven times.  He has not had a punt blocked since the 2004 season.


Nearly A 75-25 Breakdown...Despite a promise to try to pass the ball more, head coach Kermit Blount's Rams have run the ball 75.1% of the time thus far in the 2006 season.  The Rams have 454 total plays on offense, with 341 of them being rushing attempts.  WSSU has thrown only 113 passes on the season, 48 of which have been caught for positive yardage.  The Rams have recorded 14 rushing touchdowns and four passing TD's.  Quarterback Monte Purvis has nearly as many rushing touchdowns (two) as he does passing touchdowns (three).


Doing Fine After The Injury...Winston-Salem State University defensive end Detron Hart who was injured in the Rams' game versus Florida A&M University has suffered a cervical sprain and will be inactive until further notice according to a statement issued by WSSU Head Athletic Trainer, Darrell Turner.  "He has suffered a cervical sprain and will be out of action until further notice."


Leading The Way With 10 Catches...Senior wide receiver Joshua Crawford leads the team with 10 receptions for a total of 194 yards and a team-high two receiving touchdowns.  He is averaging 19.4 yards per reception with a long catch of 47 yards. 


Punting His Way To The League?...Winston-Salem State University punter Chad Oakley may very well be punting himself into the National Football League.  Oakley is being watched closely by several professional football organizations as he has tallied 38 punts for 1677 yards for an average of 44.1 yards per punt, and more impressively, has not had a punt blocked since 2004.


Pulling Double Duty...WSSU senior wide receiver Joshua Crawford pulls double-duty as both a wideout and a kick returner.  Crawford has recorded 10 catches for 194 yards this season and leads the Rams with a pair of receiving touchdowns.  He also has returned 16 kicks for 193 yards to lead the Rams.  Crawford averages 12.1 yards per kick return.


Crazy Logic...Often, in the world of sports, the team that scores first wins.  Not so with the Rams as WSSU has scored first in seven of their eight games.  Unfortunately, for the Rams, WSSU has lost four of those games where they score on their opponent first (3-4 when scoring first).


Finally, More Than 100...Until last weekend and Monte Purvis 112 yards passing, the Rams had turned in seven consecutive games with less than 100 net yards passing.  Until last weekend WSSU had not turned in a 100-yard passing game, as a team, since a 126 yard passing game versus Saint Augustine's College last season, a span of seven games.


29% On Third Down...The Rams are currently turning in a third-down percentage of only 29% as WSSU has been successful on only 27 of their 93 third-down conversions.  However, WSSU's opponents are turning in a third-down conversion percentage of 41% as WSSU opponents have successfully converted 39 of 93 attempts on third down.


Three Straight...After two games at home, the Rams have take to the road for the third of three consecutive road games this weekend.  The Rams visit three states on the trip (the states of Georgia, Florida, and Virginia).


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