Sept. 24, 2011
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - CIAA leading rusher Nic Cooper ran for a career-high 257 yards and four touchdowns while quarterback Kameron Smith proved efficient as 22nd-ranked Winston-Salem State got off to a hot start and prevailed in a 56-20 victory over Fayetteville State on Saturday night at Bowman-Gray Stadium.
The Rams (4-0, 3-0), the second nationally-ranked team Fayetteville State has played this season, led 14-0 by the 9:57 mark of the first quarter, getting a 1-yard scoring run by Cooper following his 68-yard run to set up the touchdown 2 minutes into the game. Later, he found the end zone again, this time from 53 yards out.
Fayetteville State (0-4, 0-1) refused to give up in the game though, despite falling behind 35-6 at the half. The Broncos closed within 42-20 late in the third quarter after touchdown passes of 21 and 39 yards from Brandon Blumears-Cluff (Jr., Phoenix, Ariz.) to Cedrick Snead (Sr., Garner, N.C.) and Jamere Pugh (Jr., Henderson, N.C.), respectively.
The Rams recovered a Broncos' fumble deep in Winston-Salem State territory near the end of the third period, taking momentum back with a 3-yard score from Cooper, his fourth of the game, for a 49-20 lead. Maurice Lewis added a 79-yard score early in the fourth quarter.
Christopher Hairston (Fr., Jacksonville, N.C.) led Fayetteville State with 109 yards rushing on 21 carries, becoming the first 100-yard rusher for the Broncos this season.
Blumears-Cluff proved to be tough in an uphill situation, finishing 14 of 19 for 200 yards for three touchdowns. Pugh had seven catches for 95 yards and a score while Williams added 47 yards on two receptions.
Preseason All-American Andre Lyles (Sr., Ahoskie, N.C.), ranked second in the CIAA in tackles, added 10 more on Saturday. Marcos Esquivel (Sr., Kearney, Ariz.) made his 2011 return and registered 10 tackles, including one for loss.
Winston-Salem State, which boasts the highest-rated offense in the CIAA, added to its early 14-0 lead with 2:46 to go in the opening period when Jameze Massey raced 74 yards on a punt return to make it 21-0.
Fayetteville State, not unlike its second-half performance against Elizabeth City State a week, ago, refused to give up, however. The Broncos capped a 6-play, 69-yard drive with a 17-yard scoring toss from Blumears-Cluff to Kasunn Williams (Fr., Rocky Mount, N.C.) with 6 seconds remaining in the first quarter to trim the lead to 21-6.
But Winston-Salem State responded with a 56-yard scoring run by Smith less than 2 minutes into the second quarter.
While the Broncos, who share an 0-4 record with fellow Southern Division foe Shaw, fought back to intercept a Smith pass in the end zone midway through the period, Winston-Salem State managed to halt the Fayetteville State drive deep in Rams territory. Winston-Salem State then quickly tacked on another touchdown on Michael Byrd's 11-yard reception for a 35-6 lead at the half.
Smith finished 13 of 19 for 111 yards and a touchdown to go with an interception. He added 55 yards on the ground on five rushes. Lewis added 115 yards on five carries.
Fayetteville State begins a stretch of three straight home games at Luther "Nick" Jeralds Stadium against St. Augustine's at 6 p.m. on Oct. 1.