Lost in the drama of the post-game fight that followed Winston-Salem State’s convincing 23-7 win over Johnson C. Smith last Saturday at Bowman Gray Stadium was how the defense played its best game of the season.
Robert Massey, the Rams’ interim head coach, opened his news conference on Tuesday afternoon with a statement about what happened when the two teams brawled. But after that, it was all about football.
And that’s where Massey and the players want to keep the focus.
“We can’t worry about all that other stuff,” said offensive lineman Jared Eure, Jr., a West Forsyth graduate who transferred to WSSU this season from Louisburg Junior College. “Our focus is on football and our next game.”
Massey and his coaching staff were not happy with the lack of discipline after Saturday’s game. The team had practice on Sunday, just as it always does during the season. Eure was asked if the players ran more than they usually do during Sunday’s practice.
“No comment,” he said with a smile.
Massey, who has been coaching in college for 23 years, says this has been a difficult week.
“The unfortunate part is my guys played well and I thought we had a good performance for our fans until the melee there afterwards kind of soured the moment,” Massey said.
The challenge this week for Massey is getting his team focused on football. WSSU will play in High Point at 6 p.m. against St. Augustine’s, the first time it has played at Simeon Stadium since 2010.
In Saturday’s win, the Rams allowed just 113 yards and created six turnovers. Josh Flowers had three interceptions, and defensive lineman Trae Jackson had five tackles and forced a fumble.
“We did get after it, especially in the second half,” Massey said.
Wide receiver Chandler Belk, who did not dress for last week’s game, will be back for the Rams. He is the team’s third-leading receiver with 15 catches.
“It wasn’t the dog house,” Massey said about Belk being benched last week. “We have rules you have to abide by. And we have guys that need to follow those rules, but Chandler will play this week.”
Offensive lineman Elliott Baldwin also missed last week’s game with an injury. Massey said that Baldwin should be able to play on Saturday.
Massey said that Jackson is doubtful for Saturday’s game after he sustained a leg injury late. Jackson also was attended to after the brawl on Saturday, but Massey wouldn’t say if Jackson was injured further during the brawl.
“We’ll have to see if Trae can go this week,” Massey said.
Another positive from Saturday’s win was the play of the offensive line and quarterback Naiil Ramadan. He led two scoring drives in the first half as the Rams took a 10-0 lead at halftime.
Lawrence Kershaw, the offensive coordinator, has been inserting Ramadan at various stages in each of the last four games in place of sophomore Dominique Graves.
“Every week is the same,” Ramadan said. “We have to go 1-0 every week.”
Ramadan, a graduate transfer from N.C. Central, said he stays ready on the sideline in case he needs to enter a game.
“It’s all about performing when my name is called,” Ramadan said.
The Rams’ defense will be facing one of the worst offenses in the CIAA.
The Falcons are averaging just 160 yards per game, which ranks 10th out of 12 teams, and they are averaging 12 points per game, which ranks 11th in the CIAA.
Last week, the Falcons (1-5, 1-2) beat Livingstone 20-12 to get their first win of the season.
St. Augustine’s also has had plenty of drama this season. Coach Tim Chavous was fired after the third game of the season. The co-interim head coaches are Okesa Smith and Reggie Cooper.
“We are looking forward to trying to get another win in the Southern Division,” Ramadan said. “We have some momentum now after Saturday’s win, so we want to keep it going.”