By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Rams Stay Undefeated In CIAA With Win Over Fayetteville State
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The WSSU Rams stayed perfect in the CIAA by beating the Fayetteville State University Broncos 26-24 primarily because of good play on offense, timely defense and Kicker Matt Hind before a loud crowd in the cold weather on a Saturday night in Fayetteville, NC. The win also gave them a win over the 2002 and 2003 CIAA Champion Broncos for the first time in four years.
The first play from scrimmage looked as though it may be a game-breaker for the Rams as Martin Hicks broke free for a 36-yard gain deep into Fayetteville State University territory. With only one man to beat, Hicks spun to elude a tackler and was stripped of the ball, coughing up his fifth fumble of the year and the Rams 10th fumble giveaway in 2005.
The Broncos immediately made the Rams pay on the offensive series that resulted from the Hicks fumble as Amir Holding capped a seven-play, 62-yard drive that used 2:05 of the clock, with a four-yard touchdown run to put the home-team Broncos ahead 7-0 only minutes into the first quarter of play.
The Rams would fired back as Monte Purvis turned a busted play on third-and-five from the WSSU 45-yard line into a 55-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:40 remaining in the first quarter of play. The Ram drive, a three-play, 60-yard possession, was set up by a stingy Ram defense that gave the Broncos no options on their second drive of the game, forcing a three-and-out.
The quarter would come to a close with the fans in attendance looking towards the possible fireworks that could come in the game’s second 15 minutes. Those fireworks would come only 2:23 into the second period of play as FSU’s Robert Munoz drilled a 21-yard field goal through the middle of the uprights to give the Broncos a 10-7 lead.
Following a FSU touchdown from Charles Nieves, Hicks recorded his second touchdown of the quarter, this time from only four yards out as he powered his way into the endzone carrying two would-be tacklers with him, to give the Rams a 20-17 advantage. A Matt Hind point-after attempt failed, and WSSU was forced to take a three-point lead into the locker room at half time.
The game’s third quarter would prove to be an uneventful one as neither team would crack into the scoring column as the game switched gears from an offensive showcase to a grinding, defensive battle where each team recorded a pair of failed offensive drives.
The final 15 minutes of play started with a Bronco big play as FSU sophomore quarterback Jay Autry hit Daryl Barnett with a 47-yard touchdown strike to put the home-team Broncos up 24-23 less than one minute into the quarter.
Dropping back on third-and-three, Autry fired a pass into double coverage deep into Ram territory. As two WSSU defensive backs leapt to intercept the pass, the Rams’ collided, with Autry being the lucky beneficiary as he reeled the catch in and trotted into the endzone for the touchdown.
The Rams immediately answered with a drive of their own in an attempt to regain the lead. However, a quarterback draw play on third-and-goal from the Broncos’ 10-yard line was unsuccessful, setting up a Hind 21-yard field goal that pulled the Rams to within one point at 24-23.
The Rams marched down to the Broncos’ 39-yard line where they looked at a fourth-and-two with 2:20 to play, still trailing by a lone point with the score 24-23 in favor of the Broncos.
After they got to the 39 of the Broncos, it was “3 yards and a cloud of Hicks who gained three tough yards to keep the WSSU drive alive.
Five plays later, it would be a repeat for the Rams all over again as placekicker Hind who missed an extra point in the game’s second quarter, would stare down a 26-yard field goal with only six seconds on the clock looking for the win.
With the win, the Rams improve to 3-3 overall and more importantly improve to 3-0 in the CIAA, keeping their Championship game dreams alive. The Broncos fall to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the CIAA with the loss.
WSSU returns to action on October 8th, 2005 as they travel to Salisbury, NC to take on the Livingstone College Blue Bears in another important CIAA Western Division football contest at 6:00 pm.