WSSU Ends 2006 Season With A Loss At Norfolk State

By L.A.Batchelor
Updated: November 21, 2006

WSSUNORFOLK, Va. — Winston Salem State was trying to end their season with five wins and send their seniors out on a winning note while Norfolk State just wanted to snap their six-game losing streak. It was the latter that took place.

Despite being tied at halftime, the Rams came out flat and the Spartans took advantage of it. NSU scored 17 unanswered points in the second half and won 31-14 on senior day in front of a noisy crowd of 3,902 at Dick Price Stadium in Norfolk.

The Rams started with promise when corner back DeRon Middleton intercepted a pass from Spartan quarterback Casey Hansen and raced 39 yards for a touchdown giving the Rams an early 7-0 lead with 11:31 left in the first quarter.

After the Rams stopped the Spartans once again on an interception by Alex Chandler, the offense was given the opportunity to come out and establish the running game an add to the lead. Unfortunately, they were unable to move the ball and WSSU gave the ball back to the Spartans once again.

The Rams defense continued to play well forcing NSU to punt the ball once again to the Rams and this time it was the Spartans opportunity to take advantage of a turnover.

After the Spartans punted the ball to the Rams, punt returner David Irizarry fumbled the ball which was recovered by NSU’s Dustin Johnson in the end zone for a game tying touchdown with 8:15 left in the second quarter.

The Rams offense continued to sputter giving opportunity after opportunity away and the Spartans finally took advantage of the opportunities late in the quarter.

Quarterback Casey Hansen found Errol Henry for a 16 yard scoring pass at the end of a quick four play, 74 yard-drive to give Spartans a 14-7 lead with 2:16 remaining in the half.

WSSU quarterback Monte Purvis and the resilient Rams answered with a seven play, 68-yard drive ending with seldom used receiver Brent Thomas scoring on an eight yard corner route.

The game was tied again, this time at 14-14, with just :26 seconds remaining in the half which was the score at halftime. The Rams held the Spartans to 39 rushing yards on nine carries and intercepted Hansen three times.

As if the team forgot their was a second half, the Rams began the half seemingly in a daze especially on defense. The team was flat and the Spartans took advantage of WSSU’s lackluster effort, especially with their first three possessions.

The Rams lacked intensity and they paid for it.

Hansen took the team down the field on a 12 play, 74 yard drive which finished with a threeyard scoring run by Monte Anthony. NSU led 21-14 with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter.

After the Rams moved the ball down the field, quarterback Purvis was intercepted and the Spartans went back to work. Hansen completed a 71-yard scoring bomb to Emery Sammons on an obvious blown coverage. NSU now had a commanding 28-14 lead with 2:11 in the third quarter.

The Spartans controlled the fourtth quarter and controlled the Rams. They added a 21-yard field goal from Jay Castellat late for the final score of the 31-14 win. Although they moved the ball a few times in the fourth quarter, WSSU was shutout in the second half.

Purvis showed signs of things to come next season with a solid game going nine of 18 for 144 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also tallied 51 yards rushing on 12 carries.

After 54 yards in the first half, Robert Fluellen was held to only 10 yards in the second. Josh Crawford led the way in receiving with 3 catches for 74 yards and Brent Thomas caught 2 passes for 33 yards and a touchdown.

The Spartans were led by Hansen, who after throwing three picks in the first half finished 12 of 22 for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns. The other Monte, NSU’s Purvis, ran for 132 yards on 26 carries.

It was definitely a surprising result especially since the Rams defense has been solid against the run and overall this season.

With the win, the Spartans ended a six-game losing streak and finish their season 4-7 while the Rams finish their first unofficial/official season in the MEAC with a 4-7 record as well.

I know the Rams and their fans are disappointed but they competed the entire season and won more games then most people expected.

The Rams should be even better next season, with a year under their belt in the conference, some great and talented starters and roster players returning and more experience, the Rams should win more than four games next season.