WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (4-6, 3-4 CIAA) looked to close the season with a bang, but some second half struggles proved costly in a 31-17 loss to the Fayetteville State Broncos (8-2, 6-1 CIAA), Saturday afternoon. The Rams played a strong game, but the team faded in the second half to take the tough loss.
"It was a meltdown. In the second half, we didn't play well at all. We couldn't get anything going offensively and defensively, we couldn't stop them," WSSU interim head football coach Robert Massey said. "We had the lead, but we can't just continue getting three against a good team. We're supposed to get touchdowns and we didn't do that. And defensively, we didn't stop them."
The loss came in spite of some strong individual performances, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Rams forced four FSU turnovers in the game, but the WSSU offense struggled to get into gear in the hard-fought loss. WSSU sophomore linebacker Ta'Shaun Taylor continued to be a defensive force for the team with 14 tackles (six solo) in the game. Senior defensive back Daryus Skinner capped his tremendous career with another great performance as well. He had a pair of interceptions in the game to go along with four tackles (one solo). Junior linebacker Bikembe Kearney added seven tackles (one solo). He also had a fumble recovery.
Things looked grim early for the Rams, but a big second quarter gave the Rams a tremendous lift. The Rams allowed a Bronco touchdown on the opening drive of the game to fall behind, 7-0 with 10:13 in the first quarter. The Rams were able to hold the Broncos to a field goal on the very next drive to all behind, 10-0 with 4:48 left in the first quarter.
It didn't take long for the Rams to answer as WSSU dominated the second quarter. The Rams defense took advantage of a fumbled punt return by the Broncos that closed the first quarter. After getting the ball on the Fayetteville State 36-yard line, the Rams capitalized with a one-yard run from senior running back Farrell Murchinson with 14:29 left in the second quarter. The PAT kick left the Rams trailing, 10-7. The Rams took advantage of another Bronco miscue when Skinner got his first interception of the game in the WSSU endzone. He returned the ball 32 yards to kick off a WSSU drive that was capped by Murchinson's second touchdown of the game. The ensuing PAT kick left the Rams lead, 14-10 with5:56 left in the second quarter. From there, the Rams defense continued their tremendous play to take the team's 14-10 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Rams carried their momentum into the third quarter. Freshman kicker Ivan Caro hit a 28-yard field goal to push WSSU ahead 17-10 with 3:28 left in the third quarter. However, the score was the last stand in the game for the Rams. The Rams allowed a four-yard Fayetteville State touchdown run with just under two minutes left in the third quarter that tied the game before allowing the game to slip with a pair of Fayetteville State touchdowns.
With the loss, the Rams finish the 2019 season with a 4-6 overall record and a 3-4 record in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) play. 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.