Week 9 Recap: Vikings, Rams Clinch Title Game Berths
by Shawn Warren, CIAA
(HAMPTON, VA) With wins yesterday, the Elizabeth City State Vikings and the Winston-Salem State Rams both clinched division titles and each claimed their second consecutive berth in the CIAA Championship game on November 10 in Durham.
The undefeated and second-ranked Rams (9-0, 6-0 CIAA) earned the Southern Division title and a chance to defend their 2011 CIAA Championship with a convincing 62-31 win over Shaw (4-5, 3-3 CIAA) yesterday at Durham County Stadium. Quarterback Kameron Smith continued on an unprecedented hot streak for WSSU. A week after throwing for a school-record seven touchdowns against Livingstone, Smith passed for a career-high 393 yards and tossed six touchdowns as the Rams pulled away from the Bears in the second quarter and cruised to the win. Smith also led the Rams with 36 yards rushing and a score. Jahuann Butler had eight receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns and Jameze Massey caught three balls for 114 yards, and one score as WSSU finished with 484 yards of total offense.
The Rams led 13-7 after one quarter, but quickly broke the game open with a huge second quarter. Smith threw touchdown passes of 67, 5, 6, and 19 yards in a decisive 28-2 run in the second period. When it was over, Winston-Salem State led 41-9 and the rout was on.
The Rams added three more touchdowns in the second half and eclipsed the 55-point barrier for the fourth straight game. Winston-Salem State has outscored their last four opponents 239-75 en route to their second Southern Division title in as many years. Shaw, who outgained the Rams 494-484, was led by quarterback James Stallons, who passed for 412 yards and three touchdowns. Ta’Juan Brown had 10 catches for 162 yards and one touchdown and Antonio Dunn rushed for 95 yards and a score for the Bears. Winston-Salem State looks to complete their second straight undefeated regular season with a visit to Fayetteville State on Saturday.
Over in the Northern Division, Elizabeth City State (6-3, 5-1 CIAA) needed a win over Virginia Union and a Virginia State loss to Chowan to sew up the division title. They got both. Nigel Rios’ 94-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter helped the Vikings hold on for a 27-21 win over a determined VUU squad on Saturday at ECSU’s Roebuck Stadium. Tailback Daronte McNeill rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns as the Vikings survived the Panthers’ furious fourth quarter rally and earned their second straight Northern Division title.
McNeill scored on runs of four and five yards as the Vikings jumped out to 14-0 first quarter lead. The Panthers got on the scoreboard when tailback Jerrell Washington capped a 7-play, 75-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown run to cut ECSU’s lead to 14-7 after one quarter. The Panthers tied the game at 14-14 on quarterback Kenneth Graham’s 1-yard run in the second quarter. The Vikings closed out the second quarter scoring with a 27-yard field goal from Brett Symonds and led 17-14 at the half.
Rios’ big interception accounted for the only points of the third quarter. Following a fumble by Viking reserve tailback Petey Boone, the Panthers recovered the ball in prime scoring position at the ECSU 22-yard line. Two plays later, Rios picked off a pass attempt by Graham and raced 94-yards for the score, giving the Vikings a 24-14 lead with 7:50 left in the quarter.
Symonds’ second field goal of the day, another 27-yarder, stretched the Vikings’ lead to 27-14 early in the fourth quarter. Things got interesting when Virginia Union drove the ball 98-yards in eight plays for a touchdown. Washington’s two-yard TD run and Stephen Velasquez’s PAT trimmed the lead to 27-21 with 4:16 left in the game. The Panthers then recovered an onside kick at the ECSU 37-yard line, trailing by six with 4:09 remaining. A 16-yard run by Graham on 3rd and 3 moved the ball down to the Vikings’ 14-yard line. After a sack by the Vikings’ Brad Davis dropped Graham for an eight-yard loss and an incompletion on third down, the Panthers were faced with a fourth and 18 at the ECSU 22-yard line. On fourth down, Graham was again flushed out of pocket by Davis, but was able to fire a pass to Denzel Duchene who had gotten open in the end zone. But Duchene was unable to secure the pass and it fell to the turf incomplete with 39 seconds remaining and the Vikings had secured a rematch with Winston-Salem State in the CIAA title game.
In addition to McNeill’s big day running the ball, quarterback Namon Jones threw for 192 yards and Keith Strickland caught six passes for 109 yards as the Vikings outgained the Panthers 331-273. Davis led ECSU’s defense with nine tackles, a sack, and six quarterback hurries. Rios added seven tackles to go along with his big interception. The Panthers were led by Washington, who rushed for 72 yards and two scores. Jacques Bostick had a game-high 16 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble for Virginia Union (4-5, 2-4 CIAA).
ECSU will look to go into the championship game on a winning note when they close out the regular season at Bowie State on Saturday. The Vikings and Rams will square off for the CIAA title on November 10 at Durham County Stadium.
|Chowan Hawks||33||Virginia State||21|
|Elizabeth City State||27||Virginia Union||21|
|Johnson C. Smith||27||Saint Augustine’s||21|