HIGH POINT — The offensive line of Winston-Salem State will get a bonus this week from Coach Robert Massey.
After paving the way for running backs Quarderman Sloan and Farrell Murchison in a 31-10 win over St. Aug’s on Saturday night at Simeon Stadium, the offensive line will get an extra meal.
“I told (the offensive line) if we could get both running backs 100 yards I’d have a pizza party for them,” Massey said. “So I guess I owe them a pizza party.”
Sloan ran for 150 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown and Murchison had 134 yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns.
Running through the Falcons (1-6, 1-3 CIAA) was the best way for the Rams to move the ball, and it was the line which kept opening up big holes.
“Sometimes I had my choice as to which hole to run through,” said Murchison, who missed all of last season while recovering from testicular cancer. “The line did a phenomenal job. They all played a part in how good we ran the ball tonight.”
The Rams (3-4, 2-2) racked up 438 yards of offense, and 273 of those came on the ground. All four touchdowns came on the ground as quarterback Dominique Graves kept going to what was working best.
One of those linemen, Michael Hudson, was all smiles afterward as he talked about dominating the line of scrimmage.
“We came into this one wanting to dominate on every play,” said Hudson, who along with Kendyl Graves, Tyler Chambers, Najee Wilson and Jaelin Shaw started on the line.
Offensive coordinator Lawrence Kershaw also used plenty of other linemen as the game wore on, and they continued to dominate. The Rams averaged a hefty 7.3 yards a play and if not for 10 penalties for 90 yards, would have won by a bigger margin.
“We didn’t say anything to each other before the game,” Hudson said of the conversations with his fellow linemen. “We just wanted to keep it going the whole 60 minutes because nobody in this league can stop us when we run the ball.”
The defense also had a good game, allowing just 226 yards and forcing three turnovers. Picking up interceptions were Josh Flowers and Omar Baker Jr., while Karron Jeter had a sack in the first half. Linebacker Kalen Allen and Daryus Skinner each had six tackles, with Allen adding two sacks.
“Throughout practice, we just tried to get better and we had fun in practice and treated it like a game and it just carried over,” Jeter said.
It wasn’t a very joyful week for the Rams, after the brawl that took place after their win over Johnson C. Smith last weekend.
At least two WSSU players, who weren’t identified by Massey, were suspended for the game.
Jeter said the Rams did a good job of putting that behind them.
“We talked about it last Sunday in our meetings, and we just learned from that and we know we can’t do that again because that’s not WSSU football,” Jeter said.
Hudson said that biggest positive coming out of the game was how well the line worked together with the running backs.
“That’s us with the linemen and running backs working together, so that’s how we can win games,” Hudson said. “This win is just a stepping stone to where we want to go.”
The Rams have now beaten the Falcons eight of the past nine times they’ve played.
“We needed to be a better running team,” said Massey. “We’ve been doing a good job of throwing it down the field, but we needed to establish the run and those guys to get their confidence back.”
Massey said that this past week was hard, but he wanted to make sure and commend St. Aug’s for not giving up.
The Falcons are down to just 38 players and their head coach was let go after the third game of the season.
“They played hard and they aren’t a bad team but they are just a young team,” Massey said. “And they showed class after the game, and I thought we did too when we shook hands.”
In the first half, the Rams scored on four of their first five possessions and took a 24-7 lead.
Murchison scored the first touchdown of the game on their “heavy” formation with the direct snap going to Murchison from the 1-yard line.
Sloan later scored on a nifty 21-yard run with a cut back at around the 10 yard line that looked a lot like the way Barry Sanders used to run in his prime.
The 14-0 lead was cut to 14-7 when the Falcons scored on a short 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jalen Jones to Aakiel Greer.
However, the Rams came right back with a touchdown thanks to Murchison’s grown-man run.
He bounced off three would-be tacklers on his way to a 16-yard touchdown to make it 21-7.
Ivan Caro added a 29-yard field goal late in the half that gave the Rams a 24-7 lead at the break.
The Rams’ final touchdown of the game came early in the fourth quarter on a Murchison 2-yard plunge off the “heavy” formation near the goal line, where he again took the direct snap.
The Rams will play at Livingstone on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in another Southern Division game.
St. Aug’s 7 0 3 0 — 10 WSSU 14 10 0 7 — 31
W — Murchison 1 run (Buenaventura kick)
W — Sloan 21 run (Buenaventura kick)
S — Greer 1 pass from Jones (Labet kick)
W — Murchison 16 run (Buenaventura kick)
W — Caro 29 field goal
S — Labat 40 field goal
W — Murchison 2 run (Buenaventura kick)
A — 2,187