Winston-Salem State JC Smith Football

Winston-Salem State’s Josh Flowers had three interceptions on Saturday afternoon.

Winston-Salem State picked up a much-needed victory on Saturday, on a sunny day at Bowman Gray Stadium against rival Johnson C. Smith.

The Rams won 22-7, but the real fireworks came afterward when players brawled on the Golden Bulls' sideline while in line shaking hands. It was an ugly way to end the Southern Division opener as coaches, administrators and a few police officers had to break up fights on three separate occasions.

Photos: WSSU football 23-7 over Johnson C. Smith

At one point, a student working in sports information who was down on the field trying to get an interview from interim Coach Robert Massey of the Rams was picked up by WSSU’s Josh Flowers. She was taken away from the fracas by Flowers, who also had a spectacular game on the field.

Flowers led the defensive charge with a career-high three interceptions as the Rams (2-4, 1-2 CIAA) held the Golden Bulls to 113 total yards.

The Golden Bulls (2-4, 1-2) had six turnovers and never could get their vaunted running game going against a charged-up Rams’ defense. Running back Emanual Wilson of Johnson C. Smith, the leading rusher in the CIAA who, coming into the game was third in Division II with 749 yards, was held to 48 yards on 16 carries.

“They bottled me up pretty good and I didn’t have much room to get out in the open,” said Wilson, a sophomore from Charlotte. “And mistakes hurt us along the way, but we’ll learn from this.”

Massey was unavailable for comment and quarterbacks coach Ryan McManus told reporters that WSSU players were off limits. No Rams players were made available to the media.

It was the Rams' first home victory of the season and first in the CIAA as they broke a two-game losing streak.

Chancellor Elwood Robinson, who was flanked by Pat Norris, the chief of police at WSSU, on the field near the locker rooms, wouldn't comment. Robinson was on the WSSU sideline toward the end of the game, as he is for most games.

Photos: WSSU football 23-7 over Johnson C. Smith

While the teams were going after each other, Brian “BDaht” McLaughlin, the public address announcer, urged the teams to calm down, to no avail. The game officials had left the field as the teams were shaking hands, but quickly returned and tried to help control the scene, with at least two of them blowing whistles. The officials were also unavailable for comment.

Two hours after the game, Massey was reviewing film in his office, according to Trevin Goodwin, the sports information director. “He’s trying to sort things out,” Goodwin said in an e-mail.

After the players were finally separated and went to their respective locker rooms, defensive lineman Trae Jackson had to be attended to by WSSU head trainer John Lavender and team doctors. He was on the ground near where the brawl first started, and his right leg was eventually put in an air cast. He was then taken by a motorized cart to the training room in the basement of Bowman Gray Stadium. His injury status was unknown.

Coach Kermit Blount of the Golden Bulls said turnovers were his team’s biggest problem. The Golden Bulls lost to the Rams for the 19th straight time.

“Turnovers killed us and they came at times where they capitalized,” said Blount, a former quarterback of the Rams and a graduate of WSSU.

Blount said it was unfortunate that the brawl marred the game.

“You hate to see that, because at the end of the day it’s all about competition,” Blount said. “It’s all about sportsmanship and I don’t feel my guys exhibited good sportsmanship at the end — and I hate that.”

The Rams led just 10-7 midway through the fourth quarter when Quarderman Sloan scored on a 7-yard run to make the score 16-7 after the point-after attempt was missed.

The Rams' defense didn't allow the Golden Bulls a first down the rest of the game after they scored on Sloan’s short run. The Rams put an exclamation point on their victory when quarterback Dominique Graves connected with a wide-open Jonathan Allen for a 54-yard touchdown.

In the first half, the Golden Bulls had three turnovers and the Rams scored off two of them. After Tharon Ingram recovered a fumble for the Rams, quarterback Naiil Ramadan hit Darren Dowdell for a 30-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.

Ramadan replaced Graves and hit paydirt on his first throw. Ramadan, a graduate transfer from N.C. Central, played the final three series of the half in place of Graves. In the past four games, Ramadan has replaced Graves in certain parts of the game as offensive coordinator Lawrence Kershaw has wanted to keep Ramadan engaged.

The Ram racked up 318 yards of offense, but had nine penalties for 88 yards.

Another fumble by the Golden Bulls helped the Rams score again. Linebacker Ta’Shaun Taylor of the Rams picked up a fumble and should have scored on an 80-yard touchdown return. Even though there was nobody near Taylor as he started upfield, the Rams somehow got a blocking in the back penalty near midfield that negated Taylor’s touchdown.

Five plays later, however, Ivan Caro converted his first field goal of the season, making a 16 yarder for a 10-0 lead that held up at halftime.

The Rams have led at halftime in every game this season, but coming into Saturday could only hold one of those leads. This time, the Rams weren’t going to leave anything to chance and they held on for the win.

"Their defense played well," Blount said. "They seemed to have us figured out with our run game. We just have to get better and be ready to go next week against Fayetteville State."

The Rams will play St. Aug's in High Point on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Simeon Stadium.

J.C. Smith 0 0 7 0 — 7

WSSU 0 10 0 13 — 23

W — Dowdell 30 pass from Ramadan (Buenaventura kick)

W — Caro 19 field goal

J — Thompson 2 pass from Wallace (Howard kick)

W — Sloan 7 run (kick failed)

W — Allen 54 pass from Graves (Caro kick)

A — 3,619

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