RICHMOND, VA –The Winston-Salem State Rams (1-3, 0-1 CIAA) left it all on the field, Saturday. However, it was not quite enough as the team took a 16-15 loss to the Virginia Union Panthers (3-1, 1-0 CIAA). The Rams played one of their best defensive games of the season, but some key miscues late allowed the Panthers to take the win.
Although the Rams took the loss, there were several bright spots for the team. As a team, the Rams totaled 334 yards of total offense while holding the Panthers to just 270 yards and just 15 points. The team saw a break out performance from junior running back Quardermane Sloane who rushed for 100 yards on 15 carries. He also added three receptions for 47 yards as well. Sophomore quarterback Dominique Graves continued his strong growth, completing 12-of-18 passes for 145 yards. Redshirt-senior quarterback Naill Ramadan came in to complete four-of-eight passes for 37 yards and a touchdown.
It was on defense that the Rams really stood out. It was sophomore linebacker Kalen Allen who stole the show with seven total tackles (seven solo), including two tackles for a loss. Junior linebacker Taymond Reed added seven tackles (six solo) of his own. Senior free safety Daryus Skinner added his third interception of the season as well.
Things looked good early for the Rams as the team controlled much of the first half. Redshirt-sophomore Pavel Buenaventura got the Rams on the scoreboard first when he hit a 24-yard field goal with 13:23 left in the second quarter. The Rams pushed their lead to nine points when Ramadan threw a five-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Chandler Belk with 4:30 left in the second quarter. The Rams held a 9-0 lead after the missed PAT kick. In the final minutes of the first half, the Rams allowed the Panthers to score an 11-yard touchdown pass. The PAT kick cut the WSSU lead down to two points 9-7 with 00:37 left in the second quarter. The Rams went on to take the 9-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Unfortunately, the second half told a different story. The Rams allowed the Panthers to reclaim the lead with a field goal early in the third quarter, but senior running back Farrell Murchinson took a one-yard touchdown run with 14:32 left in the fourth quarter. The failed two-point conversion left the Rams on top, 15-10. The Rams allowed a second 25-yard field goal to the Panthers that cut the WSSU lead down to two points, 15-13.
It was late in the fourth quarter when things went sour for the Rams. After a missed VUU field goal, the Rams' offense stalled. The ensuing punt was blocked and left the Panthers with the ball on the WSSU 25-yard line with 1:52 left to play. The Rams defense would once again do its job well as they held the Panthers out of the endzone. However, the Panthers connected on their third field goal of the day with 00:21 left to play. The kick left the Rams trailing, 16-15. From there, the Rams attempted to score, but three incomplete passes ended the Rams' attempted comeback and gave the team its third loss of the season.
With the loss, the Rams fall to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) play. The team will return to action, Saturday when they host the Bowie State Bulldogs in a 2:00 p.m. 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.