Rams Win over Livingstone College
Winston-Salem State went airborne with three touchdown passes and the Rams defense recorded its second consecutive shutout for 21-0 Homecoming win against Livingstone. It was the Rams third straight victory and 17th consecutive win over the Blue Bears. WSSU improved to 3-2 in CIAA play and 3-4 overall. Livingstone fell to 1-4 and 1-7.
Playing before the largest home crowd of the season, an Aspire TV appearance and national radio audience on SiriusXM, the Rams defense dominated Livingstone, allowing on 175 total offense yards. The Blue Bears were limited to an average 2.6 yards per play. They converted on one of 16 third down opportunities.
Winston-Salem sophomore Trevor Willard led the Rams defense with 10 tackles, including eight solo tackles and two-and-half tackles for losses. Defensive tackle Dantrell Barkley anchored a line that allowed the Blue Bears to cross midfield only once in the first half.
Barkley, a graduate student, and his defensive teammates held Livingstone scoreless twice inside the five-yard line.
Junior quarterback Cameron Lewis connected on 21 of 25 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns offsetting an anemic running game that gained only one net yard rushing in the first half and 29 yards for the game.
Lewis connected twice with grad student Alex Cabrera, the Aspire TV's MVP of the game, for two touchdowns and freshman Antjuan Collins for another strike through the air. Cabrera's 50-yard scoring catch was the longest of the season. He also caught a 35-yard pass for a TD.
For Collins, last week's CIAA Rookie of the Week, it was his fourth TD catch in two games. A leading candidate for CIAA Rookie of the Year, Collins made the most of his five catches for 60 yards with the 10-yard scoring reception.
The Rams wasted little time in putting the first seven points on the scoreboard. Sophomore Andrew Hayes returned the opening kickoff 35 yards to set up WSSU at midfield. Seven plays later Lewis hit Cabrera for 35 yards and WSSU's first score. Sophomore Jobanni Esparza kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead. The scoring drive covered 50 yards and took only 3:13 seconds.
The two teams then traded punts until 8:35 to play in the second quarter when junior Narique Smith returned a Blue Bears punt to the WSSU 37-yard line.
The second scoring drive began on a sour note. Lewis was sacked for five yards on the first place from scrimmage. The second play, an 18-yard completion to freshman Anthony Davis-Ingram at midfield was negated by a 15-yard personal foul penalty against the Rams.
A 15-yard pass interference penalty against Livingstone moved the Rams back to midfield on the next play. Lewis then connected with Cabrera on a 50-yard scoring strike and Esparza's extra point gave WSSU a 14-0 lead with 7:06 to play before halftime. The drive took only four plays and 89 seconds.
The Rams, who would capitalize on another short field, would construct a second quick scoring before halftime. The Blue Bears punt went out of bounds at the WSSU 49-yard line.
Lewis connected with Collins for 18 yards and senior El Joshua Allen for 24 yards. He found Collins open in the south endzone corner for the 10-yard TD pass. Esparza kicked his third consecutive extra point, and WSSU raced to a commanding 21-0 lead with only 20 seconds remaining in the half.
The second half was a battle between the two defenses. Livingstone fell short on a 39-yard field goal attempt with 9:37 to play in the third quarter. The Blue Bears would reach the Rams two-yard line on their final possession of the quarter, but the drive stalled, and a fourth-and-five pass fell incomplete.
The Blue Bears would once again reach the red zone on their first possession of the fourth quarter. That drive stalled on a fourth-and-seven at the WSSU 13-yard line.
WSSU threatened to add a field goal with 55 seconds remaining in the game, but Esparza's 39-yard attempt hit the left upright and bounced away.
The Rams are back on the road for the season's final two games. They will play Shaw at the St. Augustine's stadium Saturday and then travel to Fayetteville State for the regular season finale in two weeks.