CIAA champions WSSU headed to NCAA football playoffs

The Winston-Salem State University football team poses with university officials after the team captured the 2016 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship with a 43-33 victory over Bowie State University on Saturday, Nov. 12.

CIAA champions WSSU headed to NCAA football playoffs
November 17
05:30 2016

WSSU photo


SALEM, VA — The Winston-Salem State University football team captured the 2016 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Championship with a 43-33 victory over Bowie State University (BSU) on Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Salem Football Stadium.

The victory positioned the Rams as the seventh seed in the first round of the NCAA Division II Super Region One Playoffs. Winston-Salem State (9-2 overall) will face the No. 2 Seed Long Island Post (11-0) this upcoming Saturday in Brookville, N.Y.

The game time has yet to be announced.

The winner will advance to a second-round date with either third-seeded Shepherd University or sixth-seeded Assumption College on Nov. 26 at the highest remaining seed.

WSSU improves to 9-2 overall after winning their second consecutive title and fourth championship since 2011. The Bulldogs move to 7-4 in the standings after suffering their second straight loss in the championship game.

Bowie State opened up the contest with the first offensive possession. Sophomore quarterback and CIAA Offensive Player of the Year Amir Hall drove the Bulldogs into WSSU territory. Hall had a pass intended for Nyme Manns intercepted in the end zone with one hand by freshman defensive back Tyrell Flemming. Following the turnover, the Rams wasted no time scoring.

Redshirt quarterback Rod Tinsley threw a 50-yard strike to freshman wide receiver Will Walton for a touchdown. Walton scored with 11:30 remaining in the first quarter. Bowie State stalled on offense their next two possessions. WSSU tacked on another TD in the opening quarter. Senior running back Justus Picket found a wide open running hole for a 42-yard TD with 3:17 left in the first.

Before the end of the opening quarter, Hall connected with redshirt freshman wide receiver Geordan Clark for a 39-yard touchdown reception. Bowie State trailed 14-7 at the end of the first quarter. The Bulldogs tied the game 14-14 off a three-yard score from sophomore running back Robert Chesson.

On the ensuing kickoff, junior wide receiver Canard Brown returned the kick 87 yards for the score. Later in the second, the Rams added to their advantage with a 39 yard TD reception from Tinsley to Walton again. Winston-Salem led 28-14 at halftime.

In the third quarter, both teams scored with a touchdown throw. Hall completed a 27-yard pass to redshirt senior tight end Jordan Garrison with 3:10 on the clock in the third. Tinsley answered with a 36 yard scoring pass to senior wide receiver Reggie Wilkins on the following drive. WSSU recorded a safety earlier in the quarter due to a BSU holding penalty on the goal line. Bowie State trailed 37-21 at the end of the third.

In the fourth, BSU capped a 16 play drive that last over five minutes with a three yard pass from Hall to Chesson. The Bulldogs only faced a 37-27 deficit with 11:08 left to play. However, WSSU produced a back-breaking 68-yard TD run by redshirt sophomore running back Kerrion Moore.

Moore rushed for 177 yards off 22 carries with one TD. He set a new CIAA Championship game rushing record and was named Championship Game MVP.

Bowie State scored another touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. The Rams ran out the clock on the next possession and claimed their 12th CIAA title in school history.

Tinsley completed 11-of-25 passes for 194 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions for WSSU. Walton had two catches for 89 yards and two TDs. Defensively, Flemming finished with three interceptions and two tackles. Xavier Gregory had a team-high 11 tackles (8 solo).

Hall ended the evening with 348 yards off 27-46 passing with three touchdowns and four interceptions. Chesson had 107 yards and one TD. Manns caught 10 passes for 176 yards, followed by Garrison with six catches for 111 yards and one score. Senior defensive lineman Rahsaan Moore had four solo tackles, including two sacks.

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