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Another epic battle at the I-40 Showdown
In the end, it came down to a player who wasn’t suppose to play or be an important part of the epic battle between these historic institutions.
Redshirt sophomore Kameron Smith, a Naval Academy transfer, accounted for 65 yards and the game-winning touchdown on the Rams’ final drive en route to a 21-14 WSSU victory over North Carolina A&T on Saturday evening at Aggie Stadium.
In a game marked with turnovers and miscues, Smith replace starting quarterback Octavious Hawkins who was in affective and only lead the Rams to 3 points on five drives in the first half.
The contest would prove to be a match up of two staunch defenses as both the Rams and Aggies used a physical style that generated a total of eight fumbles and two interceptions and held the two powerful offenses to a combined 464 total yards.
The Aggies started the scoring with an impressive 12-play, 56-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 3:22 remaining in the first quarter after 2009 MEAC Rookie of the Year, Mike Mayhew powered his way into the end zone for his first score of the season to give the Aggies the 7-0 lead.
The Rams finally got on the board in the second quarter after Landen Thayer connected on a 22-yard field goal that cut the Aggies’ lead back to four points at 7-3.
The second half turned out to be the Kameron Smith show. After an Aggie fumble, Smith hit Virginia Tech transfer Patrick Terry on a 20-yard touchdown strike giving the Rams their first lead of the game 10-7 midway thru the third quarter.
The score was set up byAlton Keaton’s sack and strip of Shelton Morgan that WSSU’s Juan Corders recovered at the Aggies’ 46-yard line. It was Corders fifth fumble recovery in the Rams first two games of the season.
The Rams added to their advantage less than five minutes into the fourth quarter of play as Thayer’s second field goal of the game, this time from 41-yards out, pushed the lead to 13-7.
The Aggies caught lighting in a bottle as the Aggies Justin Ferrell took the ensuing kickoff 76-yards to the house with 10:28 remaining in the contest as the Aggies took their final lead of the game 14-13 as their faithful fans erupted in excitement.
After back-to-back unsuccessful drives that ended in no points, the Rams would get one final chance, to end the Aggies two game winning streak against them and it came down to the arm and legs of Kameron Smith.
Smith accounted for 65 of the Rams 78 yards on the game-winning drive as he rushed for 52 yards, including a 38-yard breakout and completed a 13-yard pass before powering his way into the end zone from seven yards out to give WSSU the lead for good with only 41 seconds remaining.
Rather than go for an extra point an give the Aggies a chance to win the game by one, the Rams decided to go for the two point conversion and was successful. Smith found fullback Tyrone Goldston a screen on pass to complete the two-point conversion and push give the Rams the lead 21-14.
After a the Aggies moved the ball inside Rams territory, three passes to the end zone were unsuccessful and the Rams snapped their two game losing streak to the Aggies 21-14.
Rams head coach Connell Maynor said after the game, he had planned to play Smith at some point during the game but didn’t know when but the decision was made easier after starting quarterback Octavious Hawkins struggled.
“I had plans on playing him last week and I had plans on playing him this week as well and with Octavius [Hawkins] struggling tonight, I went ahead and made the change tonight and he came in and gave us a spark” WSSU head coach Connell Maynor said.
“He gives us an added dimension with his legs and that’s what he did for us tonight” Maynor added.
Alonzo Lee, head football of the Aggies thought his team played well especially defensively but made too many mistakes which cost them the game. “I thought we played well defensively,” said Lee.
“But in the end when it counted, we had a big penalty and two missed tackles that cost us in the last drive.”
It was a nice way for the Rams to play their last “unofficial” game against the Aggies in their first “official” year “back home” in The CIAA.
The victory improves the Rams to 2-0 on the season (1-0 CIAA) while the Aggies fall to 0-1 on the year with the loss.
The Rams will return to action on Saturday as they travel to Durham to face the Eagles of North Carolina Central University. That same day, the Aggies begin a four-game road trip at Norfolk State.