By: Shawn Warren, CIAA Media Assistant
Eighth Ranked Rams Hold Off Late Charge by Concord for
(Athens, WV) Kameron Smith threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns and Maurice Lewis added 109 rushing yards and a score as eighth ranked Winston-Salem State held on for a 30-22 win over Concord (1-1) on Saturday. Playing on a wet field in less than ideal conditions, the Rams opened up a 23-7 lead early in the fourth quarter, but had to survive a furious late game rally from the home standing Mountain Lions.
The Rams, 2-0, fell behind early when they were forced to punt on their first possession. Landen Thayer’s punt attempt was blocked by Concord’s Nick Spradlin who scooped up the errant ball and scampered into the end zone for a 7-0 Concord lead at the 13:01 mark of the first quarter.
The Rams’ next two possessions both resulted in punts as they struggled to get their offense in gear. They finally started clicking on their fourth drive of the day. After being dropped for losses on first and second down, and looking at 3rd and 24, Smith connected with Jameze Massey (6 catches, 173 yards) for a 44-yard gain that moved the ball to the WSSU 49-yard line. That pass seemed to ignite the Rams. Mixing the pass and run, WSSU quickly moved the ball down to the Concord 33-yard line. A pass interference penalty against the Mountain Lions took the ball down to the 18-yard line. Three plays later, tailback Brandon McDonald connected with Jamal Williams on an option pass for a 10-yard touchdown. Alejandro Suarez added the PAT and the Rams had knotted the game at 7-7.
Winston-Salem State’s next score was set up by a turnover. Defensive back Dominique Tate picked off Concord quarterback Zack Grossi and returned it 34-yards down to the Mountain Lions’ 21-yard line. Five plays later, the Rams took the lead for good on Lewis’ 6-yard touchdown run. Suarez added the extra point try and WSSU led 14-7 with 12:19 left in the second quarter. That lead would hold up until halftime and through a scoreless third quarter as both teams flexed their defensive muscle.
The fourth quarter began with the Rams holding on to a slim one-touchdown lead. WSSU would extend its lead to 16-7 when a bad snap forced Concord punter Brad Cox to chase the ball into the end zone where he was dropped for a safety. The Rams padded their lead when Smith hooked up with Massey on a 73-yard scoring pass and considering the weather conditions, took what looked like an insurmountable 23-7 lead with just under 12:00 minutes left in the game. Concord’s offense finally woke up. A personal foul penalty against WSSU on the ensuing kickoff gave the Mountain Lions excellent field position. Grossi needed only four plays to drive 51-yards, capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Stewart. Concord added a 2-point conversion and trimmed the lead to 23-15. Two possessions later, Smith engineered a 5-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by his 9-yard scoring toss to Ricky Rozier and Suarez’s PAT for a 30-15 Winston-Salem State lead with 3:42 left in the game. Grossi and the Mountain Lions had one more bullet left in the chamber though. On their ensuing possession, Grossi hooked up with Ansel Ponder on a 65-yard touchdown pass to pull Concord within one score at 30-22 with 3:26 left in the game. Following the kickoff, the Rams took over at their 20-yard line and picked up two big first downs to run out the clock and preserve the win.
Despite the heavy rain, the Rams still rolled up 389 yards of offense. The defense also had a stellar day, dropping Concord for losses all day and limiting them to 266 yards of offense, including -3 yards rushing.
Winston-Salem State finishes the non-conference portion of their schedule when they travel to Ohio to take on Morehouse in the Cleveland Football Classic on Saturday.
Bowie State 28 Benedict 14
Chowan Hawks 17 VMI 24
Delta State 26 Elizabeth City State 7
Livingstone 17 Catawba 49
Johnson C. Smith 17 Tuskegee 35
Lincoln 0 Wofford 82
Miles 28 Shaw 15
New Haven 24 Saint Augustine’s 21
UNC-Pembroke 31 Fayetteville State 21
Virginia Union 31 Brevard 14
West Liberty 14 Virginia State 13