DURHAM — Shaw has been making great escapes all season.
The Bears trailed in seven of their 10 regular-season games and overcame fourth-quarter deficits in the two games leading up to Saturday's CIAA football championship game.
This time, the Bears never trailed, but they did need some outstanding play by the defense to win their fourth championship with a hard-fought 14-7 victory against Virginia State before 8,107 at Durham County Stadium.
Shaw (9-2) intercepted VSU quarterback Jarred Battle three times and recovered two fumbles, the last setting up the winning touchdown.
The championship was the Bears' third in the past four seasons.
The Bears are 4-0 in championship games and have the second-most titles in the 40-year history of the game.
"This team has been resilient all year," Shaw coach Darrell Asberry said. "They find a way to win, and we will continue to get better as we head into the playoffs."
The NCAA Division II selection show is today at 3 p.m. (ESPNews).
Both defenses were the stars of the show in the first half.
Twice, the Bears went for it on fourth-and-1, and both times the Trojans (8-3) held. Shaw finally broke through with an 11-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that saw running back Raymond Williams, the game's co-most valuable player, dive in from the 1 for a 7-0 halftime lead.
Shaw appeared ready to increase its margin in the third period after its drive stalled at the VSU 6.
But a field-goal attempt was blocked by Clifton Haney and scooped up by Alfred Ngauja, who ran 76 yards to tie the score with 5:38 left in the third.
"We have a saying, 'Something good happens, keep playing; something bad happens, keep playing,' " said Williams, who ran for 117 yards in his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season. "The last two weeks, we've had to make plays, and we knew we could do it again."
Daniel Lee made the play the Bears needed by recovering Sean Smith's fumbled punt to put Shaw at the Trojans' 6-yard line.
Two plays later, freshman quarterback Quinshon Odom, who replaced injured starter Kevin Atkins in the third, bulled into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth.
Undaunted, the Trojans drove to the Shaw 13, but defensive back Gerald Kennedy halted the momentum with his second interception of the game.
"I knew I had to do something, and this makes for a nice present since today's my birthday," Kennedy said.
But a Shaw fumble on the quarterback exchange with 2:37 left gave VSU one last chance - to no avail.
The Bears' defense held on fourth-and-9 for the win.
Of the three championships, Asberry said this one is the most satisfying.
"We had to come back from so many games, and people didn't expect us to be here," he said. "But we're playing well enough to compete for a national championship."