WINSTON-SALEM, NC – There was no shortage of effort for the Winston-Salem State Rams (0-2), but the effort was not quite enough as the team took a hard-fought 21-14 loss to the Catawba Indians (1-1), Saturday evening. The game came down to a dramatic ending and featured some tough defensive play that gave the Rams their second straight loss of the season.
Both teams had some solid offensive performances, but it was key defensive plays that turned out to be the deciding factors in the game. The Rams were able to get 341 yards of total offense, but they were able to only turn them into 14 points. WSSU sophomore quarterback Dominique Graves led the way for the Rams, completing 15-of-27 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. The Rams also saw some great receiving efforts with four receptions for 99 yards. Defensively, WSSU sophomore Ta'Shaun Taylor led the way for the Rams with nine total tackles (five solo). Senior defensive lineman Trae Jackson added seven total tackles (three solo). Senior free safety Daryus Skinner added six tackles (two solo) with an interception.
One key area of concern for the Rams were penalties. As a team, the Rams totaled seven penalties for 67 yards, but they came in critical moments in the game. "I think the penalties hurt us this week," WSSU Interim Head Coach Robert Massey said. "So we've got to do a better job of not having penalties when it counts."
The Rams got off to a slow start in the game, but the team got things going near halftime. WSSU opened the game with a scoreless first quarter, but the team allowed a first quarter Catawba touchdown. The Rams answered in a big way early in the second quarter when senior running back Farrell Murchinson scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 10:38 left in the quarter. The PAT kick tied the game a 7-7. After allowing a 16-yard field goal by the Indians to leave the Rams trailing, 10-7, Graves connected with senior wide receiver Cameron Williams for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 00:30 left in the first half. The effort left the Rams on top, 14-10 at halftime.
The second half was a much different one for the Rams as the team was held scoreless for the final two quarters of the team. The Rams allowed a 31-yard Catawba field goal in the final seconds of the third quarter and a one-yard touchdown run by the Indians with 33 seconds left in the game. The Rams did have one more chance as Graves' hail mary pass with just three seconds left found its way into the hands of junior tight end Darrell Dowdell. However, he was tackled at the two-yard line as time went out and sealed the Rams' loss.
With the loss, the Rams fall to 0-2 to start the season. The team will return to the road for their next action as the team will head to Tuskegee, Alabama to take on the Tuskegee Golden Tigers. 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.