Last-second field goal propels WSSU as CIAA Champion

Last-second field  goal propels WSSU as CIAA Champion
November 19
00:00 2015

Above: WSSU photo- No. 5 Tyree Massey runs with ball in CIAA championship game.

Black College Sports Page

Winston-Salem State placekicker Will Johnson kicked through a 23-yard field goal at the final buzzer to allow the Rams to complete a comeback and take a 17-14 win over Bowie State in a hotly-contested CIAA Championship Game before 4,557 fans at Durham’s (N. C.) County Stadium Saturday afternoon.

It is the third CIAA title for the Rams (6-5) in the last five years and first under second-year head coach Kienus Boulware. The Rams, a perennial CIAA powerhouse whose season appeared in jeopardy after a 0-3 start, turned it around under Boulware, winning five of its last seven to take the South Division title and earn a championship game berth.

“A lot of people were down and out on us with the way we started the season,” said Boulware, “and we were in a crucial point late in the season. So the mission was to continue to love these guys and share the blame and let them know we were as much a part of this thing as they were. But the key was not to mess it up and stay focused and it paid off for us in the end.”

Bowie State (9-2) dropped its first game vs. a CIAA opponent after going 7-0 in the regular season. The Bulldogs and CIAA Coach of the Year Damon Wilson, selected by the Coaches Association and Sports Information Directors, went into the game ranked second in the NCAA Div. II Super Region One and awaits the announcement of the D2 playoff field on Sunday. WSSU’s season is likely over.

With the score knotted at 14, WSSU started the final drive from its own 19 with 5:35 to play and needed 15 plays to set up the game-clinching kick. Going with an empty backfield, redshirt freshman quarterback Rod Tinsley Jr. calmly led them down the field. He hit wideout Rashaun Williams with a 23-yard pass on the first play of the drive. Five plays later, senior running back Tyree Massey (20 carries, 69 yards) converted a 3rd-and-10, running 21 yards down to the BSU 26 and later converted another 3rd-and-10, gaining 11 yards down to the BSU 2.

Two plays later, Johnson, the CIAA’s second team all-conference placekicker, split the uprights as the horn sounded.

Tinsley, who completed 15 of 25 passes for 175 yards and ran for 32 yards on 12 carries, was named WSSU’s game MVP. Bowie State freshman quarterback Nyema Washington (19-34-0, 209 yards, 1 TD) earned the Bulldogs’ MVP award. Kendall Jefferson led the Bulldogs rushing for 62 yards on 18 carries.

“We knew we could do it,” said Tinsley of the game-winning drive. “We had a lot of confidence. We just wanted to score. That was the most important thing, whether it was a touchdown or field goal. I just wanted to stay calm, no pressure.”

The WSSU defense, who shut out BSU in the second half after trailing 14-7 at the break, was led by defensive end Michael Bloomfield who registered four sacks among five tackles for losses and had one forced fumble. He said the Rams turned it up in the second half.

“I felt like the New York football Giants because the Giants did the same thing to win the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, twice,” said Bloomfield. “So a defensive game when we’re getting turnovers and stops after stops after stops, it felt great.”

WSSU trailed 14-0 late in the second quarter before scoring its first touchdown with under :08 seconds left in the half on a 4-yard run by Massey. The drive started with 1:12 left with the Rams needing just four plays to reach pay dirt. The score was set up by two Tinsley to Williams passes, one covering 44 yards to the BSU 31 and another of 21 yards to the BSU 8. Williams led the Rams hauling in five passes for 102 yards. The Rams went into the breakdown 14-7.

After a third quarter with nothing but punts from both teams, WSSU struck quickly to tie the score midway thru the fourth quarter when senior wideout Reggie Wilkins hauled in a 20-yard pass from Tinsley. It was the second play of a 45-yard drive that began with a 25-yard pass from Tinsley to Brandon Ojikutu. Johnson’s PAT tied it at 14 with 8:38 to play.

The teams exchanged fumbles early in the fourth period, Bowie State losing it on a fumble by Washington. Three plays later, a botched WSSU handoff led to a recovery and run down to the WSSU 17 by Bowie defensive back Brian Hall. A scrum afterward led to the ejection of WSSU lineman Jacque Polite. BSU drove to the WSSU 4 before two false start penalties took them back to the 14. Palmer’s 32-yard field goal attempt from there was blocked and fell short.

After a scoreless first quarter, Bowie State drew first blood scoring on a one-yard run by Washington at the end of a 20-play, 86-yard drive that took 6:38 off the clock. One of the key plays in the drive was a 13-yard run from punt formation on 4th-and-one from the Bowie 46 by Palmer. He later kicked thru the extra point and the Bulldogs led 7-0 with 13:20 left in the quarter.

BSU came back to score later in the period on a 64-yard pass from Washington to Kerrick Bullock to go up 14-0 with 1:29 left in the half.

The teams played on near even terms in the first half with Bowie State racking up 186 yards and WSSU getting 171. BSU held just a six second advantage in time of possession in the first half (15:03 to 14:57).

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