DURHAM — The Winston-Salem State Rams are CIAA champions once again.
With starting quarterback and Garner native Kameron Smith out for the second half, sophomore signal-caller Anthony Carrothers rallied Winston to a 34-19 come-from-behind victory over Elizabeth City State on Saturday at Durham County Stadium. The victory gives the Rams their second straight undefeated CIAA season and a 16-game win streak.
But to use an old cliché, the game was much closer than the score. Elizabeth City led 9-0 after the first quarter, only the second time this season the Rams trailed after the period.
I told the guys we werent going to score 48 points in this game, it was going to be much closer, said Winston-Salem State coach Connell Maynor, the CIAA coach of the year. I told them to just stay patient, play one play at a time, one quarter at a time.
Smith threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter to give the Rams the lead: a 10-yard strike to Jamal Williams and a 26-yard pass to Jameze Massey, co-MVP of the game.
Smith then suffered a shoulder injury on a sack just as the first half ended and did not return.
The Vikings retook the lead on their first possession in the third on a fake punt that kicker Atiba Jackson ran to the Winston 33. Four plays later quarterback Namon Jones found Anthony Jones for six yards to put the Vikings up 16-14. A 23-yard field goal stretched the lead to 19-14.
But the Vikings second fumble on a punt return gave the Rams the ball at the Elizabeth City 9-yard line. Carrothers hit fullback Ricky Rozier from four yards out to put the Rams back ahead for good.
We just needed to get the momentum back after they went up by five (points), he said. That one touchdown on the fumble opened it up for us and we took it from there.
The Rams defense then took control, holding the Vikings to just 60 total yards in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Carrothers broke open the game with back-to-back scoring passes to Massey, whose three touchdown game is a championship game record. Carrothers completed 7 of 11 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns.
The loss for the Vikings is their second straight and fourth in the last seven years.
We just cant make mistakes against a team of that caliber, said Tillar who has coached the four losses. But Im not disappointed in the guys. They played their hearts out. And Id rather be here every year against Winston than not here at all.
As the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Region, the Rams get a bye next week as they await their opponent in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.