WILMINGTON, N.C. - The Shaw defense gave up 533 yards of total offense to 18th ranked UNC Pembroke, falling 41-20 in the Cape Fear Classic played at Legion Stadium.
The loss is the first on the season for the Bears, who drop to 2-1, while Pembroke remains undefeated with their third win of the 2013 campaign -- all over CIAA schools.
The normally stout Shaw defense gave up 367 yards through the air - 361 of it from Pembroke quarterback Luke Charles, with the Brave receiving corps gaining significant yardage after the catch when the Shaw defense would often miss tackles.
"On defense we missed a lot of assignments and missed tackles that led to some big plays for Pembroke," said Shaw head coach Robert Massey.
The Shaw offense amassed 433 yards of total offense, but committed three critical turnovers, including two as the Bears were trying to make a comeback in the fourth quarter.
"The turnovers caught up to us. You can't commit those kind of mistakes and expect to win," Massey said.
While the game was a tough one for the Bears, Massey said that the Bears could get something out of the loss.
"It was a lesson learned," he said. "You've got to be resilient. You've got to be mentally tough. We've got to understand that if we let a team get up on us by two touchdowns and you've still got a quarter and a half to go, you can still come back and win those games."
The Braves broke on top early, scoring ten points in the first quarter while shutting the Bears out.
The Shaw offense began to find its footing late in the first quarter, and as the second quarter opened, completed a 63-yard drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak from Quinshon Odom to cut the Brave lead to 10-7.
Pembroke answered on the next drive, After a strong kickoff return from Demetrius Fairley, the Braves had a short field and with 9:30 left in the half, Charles hit John Rich for an 18-yard strike that stretched the UNCP lead back to ten.
Two drives later, Pembroke drove 82 yards, ending with a seven-yard toss from Charles to John Rich to give them a 24-7 advantage.
Starting on their own 25, Shaw started to move down the field on a series of short passes from Odom, but then Marquise Grizzle took the handoff, broke three tackles and barreled 46 yards for a Shaw touchdown that trimmed the lead to ten with 2:11 left in the half. Neither team would make a serious drive the rest of the period.
After a Pembroke penalty on the opening kickoff of the second half, the Bears had a short field. Using a no-huddle offense - and often snapping with the play clock still above 20 - Odom and Grizzle carved up the 45 yards with Grizzle punctuating the drive with a four-yard dash into the end zone. The extra point went wide left, so Shaw now trailed 24-20.
On the ensuing kickoff, Pembroke fumbled and Shaw recovered, but the Bears could only manage three yards and punted away.
The Shaw offense would stall the rest of the quarter, not managing a drive of more than 13 yards, and their first drive of the fourth quarter went only 24.
The Shaw defense, though, held the Braves scoreless in the third quarter, and went into the third quarter down only by four.
Just over two minutes into the final quarter, the Braves completed a 64-yard drive that ended with another Charles touchdown pass to Rich. The extra point gave the Braves a 31-20 lead.
On their next possession, it took UNCP only two plays to cover 46 yards, including a Shaw penalty. Charles hit Te'vell Williams on a 42-yard pass for the Braves' final touchdown of the contest, giving them a 38-20 lead.
On the next drive, Grizzle and Odom again advanced the Bears toward the goal line, but on the Pembroke two, a mishandled snap wound up in Pembroke hands, ending a drive and stalling a possible comeback.
The Braves closed out the scoring with a field goal on the next drive, giving them a 41-20 lead. The Bears had one final shot at a score, but a fourth down pass fell incomplete on the Pembroke 14. The Braves then knelt on the ball to close out the game.
Odom finished the game 32 for 48 for 268 yards and one interception. He was sacked once. Kowaski Kitchens broke the record for receptions in a game for the second time this season, hauling in 13 passes for 115 yards. Grizzle finished the game with 97 yards with two touchdowns.
Charles finished 28 for 41 for 261 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked once. Williams was the leading receiver with eight catches for 148 yards and one touchdown. Rich finished with five catches - three for touchdowns - and 60 yards. Rontonio Stanley was the leading rusher for the Braves with four rushes for 69 yards, although 62 of those came on one run.
L.J. Stroman had 11 solo tackles, one interception and two pass breakups for the Braves. Fred Williams had nine tackles and recovered one Shaw fumble.
Now the Bears turn to conference play with a 2-1 nonconference mark.
"We've still got a lot of work to do," said Massey. "It's still early in the season. I'd still rather be where we are today than where we were a year ago. Last year, we were 0-3 and now we're 2-1."
Shaw opens CIAA play next week when they travel to Murfreesboro, N.C. for a 6:00 p.m. contest against Chowan.
"We've got to step it up and play some big time defense," said Massey. "This was not a conference loss, and next week becomes more important because it is conference play."