WINSTON-SALEM, NC – You can always expect a thrilling game when the Winston-Salem State Rams (6-3, 4-2 CIAA) and the Shaw Bears (3-6, 2-4 CIAA) hit the gridiron and Saturday's game was no different as the Rams took a 27-21 overtime win over the Bears. After playing to a 21-21 tie at the end of regulation, WSSU sophomore running back Jahiz Linebarger broke out for a 20-yard touchdown run in overtime to give the Rams a homecoming victory.
The Rams took the win after a strong overall effort in the game. The Rams combined some clutch defense with some very timely offense to claim the win. As a team, the Rams totaled 322 yards of total offense, including 227 rushing yards with three rushing touchdowns. WSSU junior running back Farrell Murchinson led the way for the Rams with a team-high 142 yards rushing on 21 carries and a touchdown while sophomore Jahiz Linebarger added 97 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns. Redshirt-junior quarterback Rod Tinsley completed 13-of-25 passes for 95 yards with a passing touchdown as well.
The game featured some strong defense early, but both teams were able to get onto the scoreboard in the first quarter. Murchinson opened the scoring on the day when he scored on a two-yard touchdown run with 7:49 left in the first quarter that capped a seven-play, 95-yard drive that put the Rams on top, 7-0 after the PAT kick. The Bears would answer, however, when they scored on a two-yard touchdown run of their own with 3:44 left in the quarter and left the game tied, 7-7.
The second quarter turned out to be another defensive battle with both teams coming out with touchdowns in the quarter. This time, it was Shaw that struck first with a six-yard touchdown pass with a PAT kick that left the Rams trailing, 7-14 with 6:45 in the first half. The Rams would answer last in the half when Linebarger reached the endzone after a one-yard touchdown run with 2:38 left in the quarter. The PAT kick tied the game, 14-14, a score that the two teams would take into the locker room at halftime.
The third quarter belonged to the Rams as well. Tinsley connected with junior wide receiver Jaylan Barbour for a 23-yard touchdown pass that broke the tie once again and, along with the PAT kick, left the Rams on top, 21-14 with 3:02 left in the third quarter. The touchdown was the sole score of the quarter by either team.
While the Rams owned the third quarter, the fourth quarter belonged to the Bears as Shaw scored on a 53-yard touchdown pass that tied the game. The Rams' defense was able to shore things up and held the Bears without a score for the remainder of the game. The Rams benefitted from a pair crucial Shaw miscues as the Bears had back-to-back false start penalties on a field goal attempt with 10 seconds left that turned a 40-yard attempt into a 50-yard attempt that was well short. The Rams wouldn't be able to get a score in regulation and sent the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, the Rams' defense took the forefront, holding Shaw scoreless on six plays. It took the Rams just two plays on offense to claim the win with Linebarger going on back-to-back rushes, including the 20-yard game-winning touchdown run to give the Rams the victory.
The Rams' defense had a great day to key the win. Redshirt-junior linebacker Kyrell Williamson led the way with seven total tackles (six solo) with a half-tackle for a loss while junior defensive lineman Tyron Roberts added seven tackles (six solo) as well.
With the win, the Rams improve to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) play and 3-1 in CIAA Southern Division play. The win keeps the Rams in the hunt for their seventh straight CIAA Southern Division title and appearance in the CIAA Championship game.
For more information on Rams football, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.