Shaw Wins Defensive Battle; Downs Saint Augustine's 10-6
(RALEIGH) - Shaw Head Coach Darrell Asberry had said "they should shut down Raleigh" because the game between Shaw and Saint Augustine's would be a "war." After the battle had been fought, Shaw won the game 10-6 after coming from behind late in the fourth quarter and earned a trip to the CIAA championship game on Saturday.
On a muddy field under cloudy skies, much of Raleigh did gather at Broughton High School to watch a game that would not only bestow cross-town bragging rights, but also the Southern Division title.
All season long, Asberry had preached playing 60 minutes, and the Bears have needed all 60 in the last two games. Just as last week with Winston-Salem, the Bears needed to come from behind in the fourth quarter to take the victory.
Against Saint Augustine's, the Bears faced a 6-3 deficit late in the fourth quarter when Gerald Kennedy forced a fumble. The Bears – Raymond Williams in particular – immediately drove the ball downfield for the touchdown that made the final score 10-6 (right).
From the opening kickoff by Lyncon Shepherd until Jonathan Ringo's pass deflection for the Bears when the clock had all zeros, the game was every bit the battle people had expected.
Shaw's Rico Brown picked off a pass on the opening drive by the Falcons – setting the tone for a game where both teams struggled to hold on to the ball. Saint Augustine's threw two interceptions and gave up three fumbles, while Shaw had one fumble and two interceptions. Both defenses stepped up, holding each team to under 225 yards.
The Shaw special teams unit also aided in the defensive effort by blocking two Falcon field goal attempts.
Offensively, the Bears stayed on the ground and played the game of field position throughout much of the first half. The Bears engineered the first scoring drive of the game with an eight play, 60 yard drive that culminated in a Caleb Reid field goal with 5:48 left in the first half.
The second half was more of the same as both teams continued playing the game of field position while letting their defense and special teams make plays.
With 5:47 left in the third quarter, Stanley Porter blocked the Falcons' second field goal attempt of the afternoon.
For the rest of the third quarter, the two teams traded punts or turnovers.
In the fourth, both offenses woke up. Keyed by a critical third-down pass from quarterback Joaquin Green to Jone' Harris for 23 yards, Saint Augustine's reached the scoreboard when Green kept the ball on the sneak, scoring from one yard out. The Falcons missed the extra point, making the score 6-3.
The Bears gave back the ball on the next drive with an interception, but took the ball back when Brown recovered a fumble with 4:29 left in the game.
Williams then had three straight rushes – for nine yards, 20 yards, and 35 yards – that put the Bears in the end zone and, after Reid's PAT, gave the Bears a 10-6 lead with 3:13 left on the clock.
Saint Augustine's didn't have the chance to build a drive as Chris Martin picked off a Green pass, but the Bears could do little offensively, giving the Falcons one last chance to win the game and take the Southern Division title. As the final seconds ticked off, the Falcons tried some Hail Mary's from midfield, but all were incomplete.
The game marked the fourth straight come from behind victory for the Bears – having defeated Fayetteville State, Chowan, Winston-Salem State and Saint Augustine's after trailing.
Both teams struggled through the air, with the Bears managing only 49 yards passing and the Falcons 100. Interestingly, Raymond Williams had 137 yards rushing while the team as a whole had only 126.
On defense, Fred Sparkman had 12 tackles and broke up two passes. Charles Deas had nine tackles including a sack, forced a fumble and broke up a pass. Michael Carter had nine tackles, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry. Kennedy had eight tackles, two tackles for a loss, and the critical forced fumble.
Looking ahead to the championship game on Saturday, Asberry laughed. "We're gonna be high flying. I'm going to turn 'em loose and let 'em do what they want to do."
Cornerback LaMichael Howell shook off the notion of dealing with the championship game differently than any others, "After that first snap it's no longer a big game, it's 60 minutes of football - the same game we've been playing since we were kids."