Not a warm welcome

Published 11:07 pm Monday, October 20, 2008

DURHAM – So much for a ‘warm’ welcome.

With fans bundled up from temperatures in the upper 50’s at Durham County Stadium Saturday, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association West Division rival, Shaw, downed Chowan, 68-13, in the two school’s first-ever meeting in the football and just days after the Hawks were voted into full conference membership beginning in 2008-09.

Junior quarterback, C.J. Westler, the CIAA’s top passer, threw for one touchdown and ran for another as the Hawks missed a chance at back-to-back CIAA wins. Westler’s two scores gave him 16 touchdowns on the season despite the loss.

Also, for the third time this season Westler’s favorite target, junior receiver Eddie Coard, topped the century mark in receiving yards with 123. Freshman J.J. Spates had 61 yards on the ground and fellow-frosh, flanker Ryan Bouldin, had three catches for 24 yards including a touchdown.

Jeremy Bednarz-Gray led the defensive attack with a game-high 10 tackles and a sack. D’Angelo Goffigan and Jomo Brown had an interception apiece.

Shaw quarterback Travis Robinson threw for 368 yards and five TDs, while Raymond Williams had 137 yards rushing on nine carries and a touchdown. Williams also scored a touchdown on a kickoff return.

“We knew they were going to be a good team,” said Chowan coach Tim Place after the game. “They’re the defending CIAA champions, and we knew we would have to play the perfect game if we were going to be successful.”

Again, big plays continued to contribute to the Hawks’ undoing as poor snaps on punts accounted for two being blocked and three others setting Shaw up in good field position.

After being stopped on their opening series, a partially-blocked punt set Shaw up at the Chowan 16-yardline and on the first play from scrimmage, Robinson hit Julius Gregory for the game’s first score.

The Hawks drove into Bear territory on the very next series but were stopped on fourth-down. Meanwhile, the Bears unleashed a passing attack of their own on each of their next two possessions accounting for two more scores and a 21-0 lead after the first quarter.

Shaw got another touchdown and a field goal in the second quarter to lead, 31-0, before the Hawks got on the board. A running play and three pass plays got Chowan into the red-zone at the Shaw nine. Later a penalty moved the ball inside the five yard line and four plays later Westler escaped a tackle in the backfield and snaked his way past the second-ranked NCAA Division-II defense in the nation for the Hawks first score.

However, Shaw added another field goal to lead, 34-7, at halftime.

The second half did not bode well for the Hawks either as Williams returned the opening kickoff 56 yards for a score. Williams would again escape Chowan tacklers two series’ later and push the Bears’ lead to 47-7.

During Chowan’s next possession, Spates broke several tackles and rambled 52 yards to the Shaw six-yardline and a personal foul penalty put the Hawks on the doorstep with first and goal at the three. Two plays later, Westler tossed his 14th touchdown strike of the season to Bouldin, but the blocked extra-point attempt left the score, 47-13.

Despite the huge lead, the Bears continued throwing and collected three more passing touchdowns in the process to make for the final score. Asberry said he wasn’t trying to make a statement.

“No, we’re the team to beat now,” he said. “Chowan just caught us on a bad day. We are starting to play Shaw football.”

Shaw raises its record to 5-3 and 4-1 in the CIAA to lead the CIAA West and keep the Bears on track to defend their title in the CIAA Championship game back at County Stadium on November 9th.

“They got athletes everywhere,” said a disappointed Place. “They got size, they got speed and athleticism, and when you put that together it makes ’em a good football team.

“We just have to re-group and get ready to play next Saturday,” he added. “I’m hoping it’s a team we should be able to compete with.”

The loss left Chowan at 2-6 overall and tied in the division with Johnson C. Smith of Charlotte at 1-5. The Hawks will travel to the Queen City to face the Golden Bulls next Saturday at 1 p.m. and try to break that tie.

“We’ll take a couple of days off,” said Place, “and get back at it Tuesday. We’ll see how our players respond and see if they want to finish strong.”