Shaw Scores 14 In The Fourth for 31-27 Win Over WSSU
(DURHAM, NC)- More than midway through the fourth quarter, and Shaw had just scored a touchdown to cut what had been a 27-17 Winston-Salem State lead to 27-24.
"I told the defense we needed the ball back," said Shaw Head Coach Darrell Asberry. "(Stanley) Porter told me he'd get me the ball."
Five plays into the drive, Porter was good on his word, pulling in an interception of a Kameron Smith screen pass – the defensive lineman's first interception of the season – and returned it to the WSSU 12-yard line.
Three plays later, Bears quarterback Kevin Atkins (right) scrambled five yards into the end zone to give the Bears their first lead of the day and cap a come from behind 31-27 win in a game played Saturday at Durham County Memorial Stadium.
The win is the Bears' sixth in the row, and puts their season mark at 7-2, 6-0 in the CIAA. With the loss, the Rams finish their season at 8-2, 5-2 in the CIAA and are eliminated from contention for the Southern Division title.
The Bears scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth, finally eliminating a deficit that had begun in the first quarter when the Rams reeled off two quick touchdowns to open the game.
"We knew it was going to be 60 minutes," said Asberry. "We came out too excited. We just had to calm down and play football."
Shaw gave up the lead early as Smith scrambled out of the backfield and found an open road for a 55-yard rush into the end zone.
On the first play of the next drive, Atkins fumbled the ball and the Rams recovered at the Shaw 39. The Rams took advantage of the field position and quickly capitalized when Nicholas Cooper ran 24-yards for a touchdown with 8:04 left in the first quarter.
Raymond Williams ran for 30 yards on the next Shaw drive, culminating in a leap over the pile (left) to cut the deficit in half before the first quarter ended.
Cooper and the Rams took the ball and rushed passed Shaw as the first quarter ended, but as the second quarter began, the Bear defense halted the drive, holding the Rams to a field goal, but giving them the 17-7 lead.
With 6:15 left in the first half, the Bears were the beneficiaries of an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Rams and a 25-yard rush from Antonio Dunn, but the drive appeared to stall on the WSSU 39-yard line.
Fourth down and nine, and the Bears decided to go for it, with Kevin Atkins hitting Julius Gregory for a 20-yard strike. After two more Dunn rushes, Atkins connected with Tyrone Bolden for a ten-yard pass to cut the lead to three with 2:27 left in the half.
The Rams got an 18-yard return from Alton Keaton, then Cooper again ran over Shaw tacklers on his way to a 48-yard touchdown on the next play. In 16 seconds, the Rams had again lengthened their lead to 10, 24-14.
With 2:11 left in the half, the Bears began to drive, but with Atkins hitting only half of his passes on the drive, the Bears wound up a yard short of a first down on the WSSU 31. Lyncon Shepherd was brought in and nailed the 47-yard field goal with a kick that might have been good from another ten yards back. The Bears went to the locker room trailing 24-17.
Both teams struggled to get their feet firmly under them in the third quarter – but took a long time to do it.
WSSU ate nearly nine minutes off the clock moving the ball 51 yards, and came away with a field goal that put the lead back to ten, 27-17.
Shaw countered with a drive that ate more than five minutes off the clock, but Atkins' 19-yard run on a fourth-and-18 situation was offset by a Shaw penalty, giving the Rams back the ball with just seconds left in the quarter.
The Shaw defense stopped the Ram drive just out of field goal range, and the Bears started their comeback from their own 15. Keyed by a 31-yard completion from Atkins to Bobby Holliday, the Bears cut the Ram lead to three on Atkins' pass to Tyrone Craig, setting the stage for Porter's prediction and heroics.
The stat sheet at the end of the game echoed the close margin on the scoreboard. Both teams had 20 first downs. The Bears gained 350 yards total while the Rams accumulated 353. Both teams ran 64 plays and had a 5.5 yards per play average. Both teams were penalized seven times, and each team punted twice – both for an average 31.5 yards per punt.
The differences came on where the yards were gained. While the Bears had only 188 yards on the ground, the Rams had 289. The margin was reversed when it came to passing – 162 yards for Shaw and only 64 for WSSU.
Atkins was 13 for 24 on the game for 162 yards and two touchdowns. He garnered another 46 yards on the ground, as well as another touchdown. Williams had 79 yards rushing, 41 on a kick return and another 13 yards receiving for 133 all-purpose yards.
Four Shaw receivers had over 20 yards in receiving – seven had double-digit yardage figures. Bolden led the squad with 39 yards on three catches.
Defensively, DeMarcus Roberson had ten tackles for the Bears, including 3.5 tackles for a loss of 21 yards and one and a half sacks. Rico Brown and Fred Sparkman each had eight tackles. Porter (left) had eight tackles, as well as his interception, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry.
With the win, Shaw holds the keys to the CIAA Southern Division title in its hands. Next Saturday, the Bears will travel across town to Broughton High School where they will take on rival Saint Augustine's. The winner of that game will finish the season undefeated and claim the Southern Division's spot in the CIAA championship game November 13.
"They might as well shut the city down – it's going to be a war," said Asberry.