WSSU tops Chowan in top tier battle
Published 2:24 pm Monday, September 19, 2011
MURFREESBORO – Ram-Tough.
While that used to be a truck-maker’s marketing slogan, after Saturday’s Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) game between Winston-Salem State and Chowan University at Garrison Stadium, the phrase could also apply to football.
The Hawks and the Rams entered Saturday evening’s contest as the fourth-and-fifth best offenses in the league with WSSU averaging 44.5 points a game to Chowan’s 40.
But the anticipated shootout never happened as the Rams jumped out to a 34-10 halftime lead behind quarterback Kameron Smith’s four first-half touchdown passes and rolled to a 55-24 win.
For all the anticipated fireworks, defense proved to be the difference in this game. The Rams are second in the league, allowing a meager 16-and-a-half points per game whereas the Hawks are giving up a whopping 28 points a game.
Junior receiver Robert Holland followed up his Player of the Week numbers from seven days ago with 108 yards receiving on six catches including a pair of touchdowns. His six scoring grabs are the best in the CIAA.
“I think I’m maturing,” said the Newport News junior, “and that’s making things so much easier for me this year.”
Meanwhile fellow junior Ryan Simpson led the Chowan ground attack with 65 yards on six carries.
Simpson was also 5-of-8 passing for 68 yards and two scores after relieving starting quarterback Cameron Stover following Stover’s being sacked and helped off the field in the third quarter .
Chowan dropped to 1-2 overall, and 0-1 in the CIAA while the Rams move to 3-0, picking up all three wins on the road in conference play.
“We knew that they’ll probably be the best team that we play,” said fourth-year Hawks coach Tim Place. “They’re a good team, a good team in all phases.
“To our credit,” he added, measuring his words, “I thought we competed. We weren’t perfect, but we played hard.
“They’re a good team,” he concluded, “and we still have a ways to go.”
Winston-Salem State got on the board first.
After forcing Chowan to three-and-out on the opening series of the game, punter Ryan Murphy bobbled the snap on a punt and was tackled at the Hawks’ five-yard line.
It took the Rams just two snaps of the ball to get their first touchdown and a 7-0 lead following the point after touchdown.
But don’t feel for Murphy. The New Bern sophomore became a dual threat when as a receiver he had a pair of catches in the game; one of which led to his own 22-yard field goal late in the second quarter, and the other to a late Chowan touchdown.
He was also 3-for-3 in point-after kicks.
“My teammates told me to just keep my head up (after the bad snap) through adversity,” said Murphy after the game, “and just go out there and make plays.
“They know what I can do,” he added with a grin.
The Rams scored on five of their first six possessions of the first half and were driving for another score before Anthony Hooks picked off Smith in the endzone. WSSU torched Chowan for 302 yards passing in the first half alone.
“I was surprised they could get that open,” said Hooks. “We just had a bad game, that’s all you can say.”
It was 20-0 when Stover hooked up with Holland for Chowan’s first score, a corner route that made it 20-7 early in the second quarter.
Trailing 34-10 at the half Chowan came out revved up in the third quarter and perhaps another second half comeback – a la UNC-Pembroke – would be in order.
But three plays into the half and freshman defensive lineman Tevin McGougan went down with what appeared to be a severe ankle injury and play was delayed while he was attended to on the field and later removed on a stretcher.
“He’s a good kid,” said Place, “so we’ll pursue a medical redshirt and he’s got a great future with us,”
Chowan held on that first WSSU possession, but the Rams weren’t held down long, scoring twice in the quarter to make it, 48-10.
Added to the Hawks’ woes, Stover went down from a vicious sack midway through the quarter and did not return.
Simpson, who started the final four games of last season engineered a pair of late scoring drives: Holland’s second touchdown grab and an 11-yard scoring strike to Kevin Hodrick that made for the final margin.
The Holland-Hodrick duo have 10 touchdowns between them and have scored in each of Chowan’s first three games.
“We’ve now got four away games,” said offensive lineman Nick Watts. “Let’s hope we can get our road trip off to a good start.”
“We have to start fast and finish strong,” added linebacker Jason Ampy who finished with six tackles, “be prepared and mentally focused.”
Chowan’s next game is Saturday in Ettrick, Virginia against Virginia State. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
That contest is followed by three more road games at Virginia Union, Lincoln and Stillman College before Homecoming October 22 at Garrison against Shaw.
“It is what it is,” said Place of the schedule. “We can’t make excuses and we won’t make excuses. We’ll just show up and get better.”