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by Lut Williams
BCSP Special to Onnidan

ciaa_blue_logoSouth Division champion Shaw claimed its fourth CIAA title in seven years, third in four years under head coach Darrell Asberry, holding North Division champ Virginia State to 136 total yards while piling up 412 yards of total offense but still needing a fourth-quarter touchdown off a turnover to come away with a 14-7 win in the league’s title game before an enthusiastic crowd of 8,107 in Durham, N. C. Saturday afternoon.

Despite the yardage discrepancy, the game was tied at 7 when Virginia State’s Sean Smith muffed a punt at his own four-yard line with 12:37 to go in the game. Shaw (9-2) recovered at the VSU 6 and needed just two plays to reach paydirt, scoring on back-up quarterback Quinton Odom’s 2-yard plunge. Caleb Reid’s PAT gave the Bears a 14-7 lead with 11:59 left.

After the kickoff, attempting to tie the score, VSU (8-3) went on its longest and most sustained drive of the day, going 54 yards in 11 plays – gaining all the yards on the ground – to reach the Shaw 12. From there on third-and-8, quarterback Jared Battle’s pass into the end zone was picked off by Shaw’s Gerald Kennedy. It was Battle’s third interception of the day, the second time he was picked off by Kennedy and gave the ball back to the Bears with 5:14 to play.

VSU would get the ball back twice in the final minutes following Shaw punts but was unable to get a first down.

In the first quarter, Shaw had 10- and 11-play drives that covered a total of 126 yards but was stopped both times on downs in VSU territory. The only first half score came on Shaw’s second possession of the second quarter when the Bears drove 84 yards in 11 plays and scored on a Raymond Williams one-yard run. Reid added the extra point to give the Bears a 7-0 lead at the 6:11 mark that they took into the break.

VSU, never finding an offensive rhythm, struggled to just 70 first-half yards and just two first downs. When the Trojans did get on the board, it was thru their defense. Late in the third quarter after a Shaw drive stalled at the VSU 16, Reid’s 33-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Clifton Haney and scooped up by Alfred Ngauja and returned 76 yards for a score. Justin Parker’s PAT knotted the game at 7 with 5:38 left in the third period.

Battle completed just 5 of 19 passes on the day for 46 yards with the three picks. The Trojans also lost two fumbles. Rahoo Walker led the VSU rushing attack with 37 yards on six carries. VSU linebacker Jeremy Pruitt amassed 17 tackles to lead the Trojan defense.

Williams was Shaw’s workhorse, carrying 33 times for 117 yards. He was named Shaw’s championship game MVP. Starting quarterback Kevin Atkins, who went out with an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter, was 16 of 28 for 183 yards with one interception.

Shaw, who came into the game ranked sixth in the Div. II Super Region I, will likely gain one of six playoff spots from the region. The Bears will anxiously await Sunday’s 3 p.m. NCAA selection show to see if, where and when they will play. The selection show will be carried live on ESPN News.


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