DURHAM, NC – Shaw University's junior quarterback Darron Downing (Portsmouth, VA) rushed for 59 yards and scored three touchdowns on 17 carries but the Rams of Winston-Salem State University scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter that led to a 30-23 loss for the Bears on Homecoming and Senior Day at Durham County Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Before kickoff, Shaw recognized eight seniors who played in their final home contest at Durham County Memorial Stadium. Those seniors included defensive lineman Dwight Campbell (Durham, NC), offensive lineman Kendall Evans (Temple Hills, MD), defensive back DaShawn Harris (Durham, NC), defensive lineman Dominique Hannibal (Chesapeake, VA), linebacker Keelan Jones (Kansas City, MO), defensive lineman Venson Jones, Jr. (Newport News, VA), defensive back Bruce Parker, Jr. (New York, NY) and offensive lineman Trevekio Roberts (Anniston, AL).
The loss drops Shaw to 1-8 overall, 1-5 in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and 1-3 in the Southern Division. WSSU improves to 7-2 overall, 6-0 in the conference and 4-0 within the division and an appearance in the 2016 CIAA Football Championship.
Downing scored on a four-yard run and freshman Beni Kinsemi's (Charlotte, NC) extra point was good to give the Bears a 7-0 in the first quarter. Shaw outscored the Rams 16-7 in the second quarter at intermission after Downing's eight-yard run in the end zone.
Shaw failed to complete a two-point conversion as WSSU's Kerrion Moore returned the ball for 22 yards on the 23 yard line that led to the Rams scoring with 17 seconds remaining in the first half. The extra point field goal from Will Johnson cut the Bears lead to 16-7 at the break.
After coming out flat, the Bears allowed the Rams to score a nine-yard touchdown that chopped at the lead 16-14 in favor of Shaw in the third quarter. SU failed to get anything going the next possession as WSSU managed to kick a 30-yard field goal to give the Rams its first lead of the contest, 17-16 with 4:00 left. From there, momentum shifted in favor of the Rams when they scored on nine-yard pass to close out the quarter before opening the final stanza with a 10-yard rush touchdown from Justus Pickett at the 14:33 mark.
Down 30-16 with 7:57 left in the contest, Shaw regrouped and was able to move the chains down the field as Downing scored the Bears last touchdown on a one-yard rush, following Kinsemi's good extra point, the score showed 30-23 with 4:06 remaining.
With a chance to even the score, Shaw got a defensive stop but a punt return that would have been worth 38 yards for Shaw was called back after an illegal block which forced the Bears to push the ball back on the 28 yard line and offensively, SU would not be able to get anything going as the Rams were able to walk off the Willie E. Bradshaw field with the win.
The postgame stats showed the Bears with 227 total offense to the Rams 428. Downing was 12-for-25 for 105 yards. Junior wide receiver Trevante Long (Greenbelt, MD) became the all-time leader in receptions after catching five passes for 48 yards. The record was 92 total receptions held by both De'Andre Okonju and James Pettway until today. Long now has 96 career receptions.
Senior linebacker Keelan Jones (Kansas City, MO) recorded a game-high 15 total tackles, 2.5 tackle for losses, one block and one quarterback hurry. Freshman linebacker Devon Hunt (Rockingham, NC) added 13 total tackles and three tackle for losses while freshman defensive back Rashad Mosley (Bessemer, AL) tallied eight tackles and two pass breakups.
The Bears will conclude the 2016 season with a road contest at cross-town rival Saint Augustine's University on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m.
For more information on Shaw football and its 11 varsity sports, visit shawbears.com.