[RALEIGH, NC] - No one can say that the Shaw defense didn't do its job Saturday.
But while the Shaw defense did its job, the entire team committed 12 penalties for 111 yards and had two costly turnovers that helped Winston-Salem State to the 21-14 victory.
With the loss, Shaw drops to 2-7 on the season, 2-4 in the CIAA. Winston-Salem State closes out its CIAA play at 7-0 and improves to 9-0 on the season.
The Shaw defense's challenge going into the game against Winston-Salem State was to shut down a Ram offense that had averaged 477 yards per game. The defense lived up to its billing as one of the best in Division II, holding the CIAA's best rushing offense to only 16 yards on the ground. In total, the Rams managed only 124 yards of offense - but it was all they needed to outscore the Bears.
It is difficult to find any statistical category that the Bears didn't own in Saturday's game. From time of possession (39:20 to 20:40), to first downs (20 to nine), to total yards (320 to 124), the Bears held the advantage. Unfortunately for Shaw fans, they also held the edge in both turnovers (Shaw's three to WSSU's one) and penalty yards (111 to 48).
"I've said all season that we're not a disciplined team," said Shaw head coach Darrell Asberry. "It's up to me to change that, but we've shot ourselves in the foot all season."
He did see some good things in the performances, as well, especially the defense. "They played together - as a unit. They showed a lot of heart out there. We're down about eight starters (due to injury) and they went out and gave it everything."
WSSU got a jump early, in large part due to a strong wind that kept punter Lyncon Shepherd's kick from sailing more than 28 yards. With the ball on the Shaw 36, it took the Rams only six plays to score the first touchdown of the game and give the crowd celebrating Senior Day at WSSU the feeling that the Rams might be on their way to yet another rout of a CIAA opponent.
The Bears then shut the Ram offense down, allowing them only seven more yards the rest of the half.
The Shaw offense found some footing late in the second quarter. Quarterback Quinshon Odom orchestrated a 65-yard drive highlighted by a 17 yards strike to Daniel Lee and a 15-yard scramble. Odom's one-yard pass to Bobby Holliday put the Bears into the end zone and tied the game with 1:06 left in the half.
WSSU put together its only sustained drive in their first possession of the second half. Ram quarterback Kameron Smith completed a 22-yard pass to Nicholas Cooper and a 29-yard strike to Jameze Massey for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
In the fourth, and still trailing 21-7, the Bears were driving into WSSU territory when Cameron Demps picked off an Odom throw and returned it for 64 yards to the Shaw 18. On the next play, Smith covered the yardage with a quarterback keeper and extended the lead to 21-14.
On the next drive, Odom and James Pettway connected on three passes - of eight, 46 and 12 yards - to spur a 73-yard drive that concluded with Pettway catching the 12-yarder in the end zone to cut the WSSU lead to seven, 21-14, with 6:11 left on the clock.
While the Shaw defense kept WSSU out of the red zone, the Shaw offense could not capitalize on the momentum and the game ended at 21-14.
"I told them they could hold their heads high as they left the field," said Asberry of his team. "They didn't get the win, but they gave everything they had and they did it as a team."
The Shaw rushing offense managed only 51 net yards, led by Frederick Holliday with 32. Odom finished the game with 25 completions on 46 attempts for 269 yards. He threw two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked four times. Pettway was his favorite target with seven catches for 120 yards and one touchdown.
Smith was nine for 16 for 1-8 yards with two touchdowns for the Rams. He was sacked three times. Cooper, who was seventh in rushing in Division II coming into the game, had only 16 yards rushing. He picked up another 39 on two catches as a receiver.
Carlos Fields led the Rams on defense, racking up 10 total tackles. Alton Keaton had seven tackles.
Next week, the Bears close out their season when they return home for Senior Day to take on cross-town Rival Saint Augustine's at Durham County Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is 1:00 p.m.