Rams Clip The Falcons On Senior Day

By L.A.Batchelor
Updated: November 5, 2006

WSSUWinston Salem, N.C. – The Winston Salem Rams had a lot on their minds and five goals to accomplish versus Saint Augustine. 12 Ram seniors were playing their last home game, they were trying to comeback from a tough loss against Hampton the previous week, trying to win to keep their hopes of winning 5 games this season and they were trying to stop the Falcons 3 game winning streak. They accomplished all five.

Thadeus Griffin scored a defensive touchdown on an interception return and had a fumble recovery and the Rams offensive running attack kicked into gear in the second half in leading the Rams to a 26-6 win over the Falcons of Saint Augustine College in front of lots of fans, friends and family on senior day at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston Salem, NC. It was a final home game that was very emotional for Jonathan Wedlock, Leonard Atkins, Tionti Powell, Brad Herring, Stan Wright, Michael Champaign, Chad Oakley, Josh Crawford, Jason Holman and Hamid Dawson.

The Rams defense came out ready and fired up causing turnovers, making big plays,making big stops and got the Rams on the board for the game’s first score. In the first quarter, the Falcons had the ball on the 30-yard line and on third down, Falcons quarterback Duane Smith dropped back to pass and was intercepted by Griffin. The junior linebacker rumbled and stumbled into the end zone for the touchdown and with the extra point, the Rams had an early 7-0 lead with 12:42 left in the first quarter.

The Rams defense continued to dominate and play well as they pin the Falcons down inside their own 10 yard line. After the Falcons attempted to punt on fourth down, the snap for the Falcons went high over the Falcons punter Richard Boone’s head into the end zone for a safety making the score 9-0 with 10:50 remaining in the the first quarter. It was the first of 4 bad snaps by the Falcons that would prove costly in the game.

After the Falcons botched another snap on a attempted punt, the Rams special teams, which also struggled, recovered the ball at the Falcons 13 yard line. After two running plays the Rams went to the air when Rams quarterback Monte Purvis threw a five-yard strike to senior tight end Stan Right at the back of the end zone and the Rams extended their lead to 16-0 after the extra point with 8:40 left in the second quarter. The drive went only three plays and 13 yards but the Rams took 2:01 to score.

The Rams offense had other opportunities especially since the defense gave the ball back to them after stopping an inept Falcons offense to punt numerous times and after creating two turnovers. The lack of offense by the Rams would prove costly as the Rams defense slowed down a bit due to fatigue which finally led to points for the Falcons. After two running plays by the Falcons and a penalty called on both teams, Falcons quarterback Duane Smith created some magic. The 5-foot-8, 160 pound senior quarterback scrambled around in the pocket and rolled to the outside, buying some time and finding wide receiver Eric McLaughlin down the field for a 58 yard touchdown catch after he beat the Rams defender De’Ron Middleton. The Falcons attempted a fake extra point that failed and the Rams lead was trimmed to 16-6 with just 3:38 left in the half. The drive took only three plays, 58 yards and only consumed 1:55.

Both teams got the ball on offense one more time in the first half but could not score and the half time score was 16-6. Both the Rams and Falcons couldn’t get any real offense going in the first half. The Rams had only 32 yards rushing and five yards passing against the Falcons defense which came into the game second in the CIAA in total defense and held Fayetteville State to 172 yards of total offense including only 46 yards on the ground in their homecoming victory against the Broncos the previous week. The Falcons did a little better against the Rams tough defense but only managed 12 yards on the ground and 98 total yard in the first half. The Rams came into the game only allowing 23 points in their last three games.

The second half started for the Rams offense like the first half for the Rams offense-dismal. WSSU tried to run the ball up the middle and outside to no avail against a solid Falcons defense that kept the team in the game. Neither offense could move the ball and score despite both teams defense coming up with big plays and turnovers in the quarter. The Rams got the only points in the quarter on a field goal. After missing and earlier chip-shot field goal, senior Chad Oakley redeemed himself connecting on a 35-yard field goal with 27 seconds left in the third quarter making the score 19-6 in favor of the Rams.

After struggling in the first half and most of the third quarter, WSSU’s offensive line finally started to open holes for the running game. Michael Helton, Bennie Barbour, Joseph Blanks, Michael Champaign and John Mobley finally put together some solid efforts and showed the strength and power that’s led to a running attack averaging over 170 yards per game this season. After the Rams defense continued to pitch a shutout in the second half, the offense “got it’s groove back” and put together a impressive drive. The Rams went on a seven-play, 59-yard drive — the best drive of the game for WSSU — consuming four minutes and finishing with a nice 41-yard touchdown run by Brandon McRae and with the extra point, the Rams scored making the final 26-6.

Rams quarterback Monte Purvis was only 3 of 9 for 31 yards but made smart decisions and did not throw an interception. The Rams were led on the ground by Brandon McRae who rushed for 63 yards on 13 carries including the big 41 yard touchdown run. Senior Stan Wright finished his last home game with a big 5 yard touchdown catch.

The Falcons quarterback Duane Smith was the smallest player on the field but played with the biggest heart. Smith was 16 of 29 for 219 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Wide receiver Eric McLaughlin had a solid game catching five passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

The Rams held the Falcons to only 53 yards rushing on 33 carries and forced four turnovers including a touchdown and fumble recovery by standout junior linebacker Thadeus Griffin.

With the win, the Rams improve their record to 4-6 while the Falcons of Saint Augustine finish their season at 4-6. The Rams finish their season when they travel to Norfolk, VA to face Norfolk State University on Saturday November 18th. Kickoff is at 1pm.