Rams Football To Close Out 2006 Season At Norfolk State, Saturday At 1:00 PM

Nov. 15, 2006

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - The Winston-Salem State University football team will close out their 2006 season, their first at the NCAA Division I-AA level looking to end the year with a 5-6 overall record as they travel to Norfolk, Virginia in the hoped of defeating the Spartans of Norfolk State University.  The two teams will renew a rivalry that has laid dormant since the 1996 season.


Kickoff...1:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time.


Venue...William "Dick" Price Stadium, with a capacity of 30,000 in Norfolk, Virginia.


The Event...The eleventh, and final, game of the 2006 season for the Rams, this weekend's contest will mark the first action for the Rams since a weekend off last weekend (November 11).  The Rams will renew a rivalry with the Spartans, a team that they have faced 18 times prior to Saturday's match up.  Both teams were former members of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association before leaving the CIAA for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.  Though it is the 19th meeting between the two schools, it is the first meeting since 1996 when the Rams earned a 13-7 win at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.


Television Coverage...There is no national television coverage for this contest versus the Spartans.  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 Spartans will air the game on WNSB Hot 91.1 FM.  Fans can also listen to the game on Norfolk State's website, www.NSU.edu. Play-by-play and color commentary duties are yet to be determined as of press time.


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.  Fans may access the live stats by visiting the WSSU Football schedule page and clicking on the "Gametracker" link.


Weather Forecast...Saturday's contest is set to be played in good weather as the forecast calls for high temperatures of 56 degrees with a low of 48 degrees and only a 35% chance of precipitation.  Humidity is slated to be 50-60% with winds out of the south-southwest at eight miles per hour with a UV index of four (moderate). 


Setting The Scene...The match up between the Rams and the Spartans will mark the 19th time the two teams have met.  The Rams are coming off of a 26-6 win over the Falcons of Saint Augustine's College that came on November 4, 2006 at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.  The Spartans are riding a six-game losing streak as they have not won a game since September 30, 2006 when they earned a 42-20 win over the Aggies of North Carolina A&T.  Since that win, the Spartans have fallen to South Carolina State (47-10), #12 Hampton (42-13), Florida A&M (36-33), Howard (13-10), Morgan State (29-20), and Delaware State (33-10).


The Coaches...The Rams are coached by 14th-year man Kermit Blount.  Blount has posted an impressive 81-63-3 record at WSSU and led the Rams to two CIAA titles (1999 and 2000).  He has posted a 1-1-1 record versus Norfolk State since taking over as head of the WSSU football program but has never lost to Pete Adrian, the Spartans' head coach.  The Spartans are coached by Pete Adrian, a 1970 graduate of West Virginia University.  Adrian has been a college head coach for eight seasons where he has an overall record of 43-51-1 during eight and a half seasons and has posted a record of 7-14 in two seasons at Norfolk State.  He has never faced WSSU head coach Kermit Blount in a head-to-head match up. 


Next Up...There is no "next up" for the Rams as they are playing in their final contest of the 2006 season.  WSSU has a chance to post a 5-6 overall record with a win or a 4-7 overall record with a loss.  WSSU will not be eligible for post-season play until 2010 as per the rules of the transition to NCAA Division I.


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 Spartans are a team that posted a 4-7 record in 2005 and turned in a 2-6 MEAC record, good enough for a tie for sixth place in the conference last season.


Rankings...Neither team is ranked or receiving votes in any of the four major Division I-AA national football polls.


The Last Meeting...The last meeting between the two teams came during the 1996 season at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC when the Rams defeated the Spartans 13-7 to even up the all-time series at 8-8-2.  The two teams have split the last three meetings (1-1-1) and WSSU has won five of the last 10 head-to-head meetings as well as earning a pair of ties over the same span.

The Series...Winston-Salem State University and the Spartans have met, officially, 18 previous times with the series tied at 8-8-2.  However the two coaches have never met on a head-to-head level.  WSSU's Kermit Blount is 1-1-1 against Norfolk State and Pete Adrian, in only his second season at Norfolk State, has never faced the Rams.


A Win This Week Would...

            ...give the Rams their fifth win of the 2006 season and move Winston-Salem State to 5-6 overall.

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

...give WSSU head coach Kermit Blount his 82nd win at WSSU putting him ahead of Thomas "Tank" Conrad for sole possession of second place 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 a Division I opponent in 2006

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

            ...drop the Spartans to 3-8 this season.

            ...pull current WSSU head coach Kermit Blount's overall record versus Norfolk State to 2-1-1.

            ...earn WSSU their fifth win over an opponent during the tenure of Director of Athletics, Dr. Chico Caldwell.

            ...give the Rams their third road win of the 2006 season (the other being wins over NC A&T and Savannah State).

            ...run the Spartans' losing streak to a season-long seven games, marking the longest such losing streak for Norfolk State in over five seasons (dating back to 2001).


A Loss This Week Would...

            ...drop Winston-Salem State University to 4-7 on the season.

            ...snap Norfolk State's seven-game losing streak

...give WSSU head coach Kermit Blount his 64th loss, putting him only 15 losses shy of the WSSU all-time loss record held by Thomas "Tank" Conrad (79 total).

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

            ...move Norfolk State to 4-7 on the season giving them the same record as the Rams.

            ...earn Norfolk State's coach Pete Adrian his first win over WSSU (first meeting).

            ...drop WSSU head coach Kermit Blount's record versus Norfolk State to 1-2-1.


Freshman Six-Pack...Freshman running back Brandon McRae (#26) leads the Rams with six 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 Spartans are looking to snap the Rams' streak of wins at one.  They are also looking to snap a six-game losing skid of their own.  The game will likely be the season finale for both teams as each program looks to end the season with a win. 


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.


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); senior wide receiver #8 Brad Herring (has a catch in 11 of the last 13 games); junior linebacker #33 Darrian Bynum (ninth on the team in tackles); junior linebacker #45 Thaddeus Griffin (first on team in tackles); junior right spur/cornerback #10 De'Ron Middleton (one interception, one fumble recovery); and senior left defensive end #90 Jason Holman (one of the Rams' most athletic players).


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 Four-For-Four...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 near-perfect five-for-six FG kicking performance since inheriting the duties three weekends ago as he has tallied field goals of 27, 29, 36, 38 and 48 yards, recording his first points since his senior year in high school.  He has also made all eight 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 1-6 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. 


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 November 4, 2005.  It also marked the first time since the Rams' transition to Division I that the Rams returned a fumble for a touchdown.  In the Rams' last game, linebacker Thadeus Griffin returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown marking the first time in the Division I era that the Rams have recorded an interception return for a touchdown.  It also marked the second time in the 2006 season that the Rams' defensive recorded a score.


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 five ranked opponents.

Only Two...The Rams played 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 (defeated the Falcons 26-6 on November 4).  The Rams faced 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 faced 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 70 penalties this season, resulting in 641 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 11 automatic first downs through seven games of the 2006 football 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 the Rams' 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.  The Rams are currently 1-3 outside the state of North Carolina this season, recording their only non-NC win in the state of Georgia (beating Savannah State University in Savannah, GA by the score of 38-6).


Sack `Em...Through nine games of the season, the Rams are currently sporting 21 sacks.  William Hayes leads WSSU with six and a half sacks and he is joined Michael Moore and Mario Dawson who have three add two sacks each, respectively.  11 WSSU roster players have at least a half-sack thus far in 2006.  The Rams have saddled opponents with 121 yards lost on their 21 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, And Then Some...Senior punter Chad Oakley continues to prove that he is one of the most valuable players on the Rams' roster.  Through 10 games, Oakley has kicked 49 punts for 2128 yards for an average of 43.4 yards per kick.  He has recorded 10 touch backs, six fair catches, and has pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line eight times.  He has not had a punt blocked since the 2004 season.


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 49 punts for 2128 yards for an average of 43.4 yards per punt, and more impressively, has not had a punt blocked since 2004.  He is a favorite for both national punting honors and on the "watch list" for NFL scouts.


Pulling Double Duty...WSSU senior wide receiver Joshua Crawford pulls double-duty as both a wideout and a kick returner.  Crawford has recorded 13 catches for 262 yards this season and leads the Rams with a pair of receiving touchdowns.  He also has returned 19 kicks for 220 yards to lead the Rams.  Crawford averages 11.6 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 eight of their 10 games.  Unfortunately, for the Rams, WSSU has lost four of those games where they score on their opponent first (4-4 when scoring first).


Finally, More Than 100...Until Monte Purvis' 112 yards passing performance versus Savannah State, the Rams had turned in seven consecutive games with less than 100 net yards passing.  Until that game versus Savannah State 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.


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