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WSSU football looking to close the season with another win as it takes on Fayetteville State on Saturday

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Winston-Salem State has the chance to feel a lot better about its football season when it takes on Fayetteville State on Saturday on Bill Hayes Field at Bowman Gray Stadium.

If the Rams can win their fourth straight game to end their season, it would give them a full head of steam heading into spring football and then next fall.

The difference for the Rams during their three-game win streak has been an outstanding defense. It’s been so good that, despite the offense struggling at key times, the Rams have beaten Shaw, St. Aug’s and Johnson C. Smith.

Former Mount Tabor star has been a mainstay on the defensive line

“It’s been effort,” said defensive back Narique Smith, who had a kick return for a touchdown in last week’s win over the Golden Bulls. “We are getting after it right now, and we have that sense of confidence.”

The Rams won’t have an easy time of it against the Broncos on Saturday. The Broncos are the five-time defending champions of the Southern Division and will represent the division again later this month in the CIAA championship game. The Broncos would face Chowan, the Northern Division champs, in the championship game in Salem, Va.

Coach Robert Massey of the Rams said he likes the way his defense has answered every challenge the past three weeks. Coordinator Markus McElveen’s unit held the third-highest scoring team in the CIAA last week to just seven points.

“I can’t say enough about how those guys have really rallied and have been so consistent,” Massey said. “We’re playing faster, we’re controlling the line of scrimmage and that’s been key. And the special teams are playing better.”

Winston-Salem State Johnson C. Smith Football

Winston-Salem State’s Narique Smith ran back a kickoff for a touchdown last week against Johnson C. Smith.

If the Rams can beat the Broncos they would end their season at 4-5 overall, which is one more victory than they had last season. While it’s not a big improvement, it’s an improvement and something to look forward to.

“We've got our seniors we are playing for, and they haven’t beaten Fayetteville since they’ve been around,” Massey said. “We talked about protecting the legacy and if you can beat a team like Fayetteville State, a team that’s been the talk of the town in the Southern Division, then it’s a measuring stick for us.”

Rams will take on Fayetteville State at Bowman Gray Stadium

Seniors will play final game

Among the seniors playing in the final game of their careers on Saturday are Mount Tabor graduates Elijah Banks and Kerron Jeter.

Banks, a defensive back, is having his best season and said it’s going to be emotional knowing he’ll play organized football for the last time on Saturday. He’s been playing since the sixth grade, when he played for the Forysth Broncos.

“I’m sort of speechless about it, and I started thinking about that when we had our last road trip earlier this season,” Banks said. “It’s going to be a bittersweet moment, because I’ve been playing football for a long time.”

Jeter, a defensive end, arrived at WSSU in 2017 and already has his undergraduate degree. He’s working on his master's in occupational therapy and will also be in a football uniform for the last time on Saturday.

“It’s been great playing here at Winston,” Jeter said. “For me, I just fell in love with this place and it’s been my home away from home.”

Still trying to fix mistakes

Even though the Rams have won three in a row, Massey says he's looking for quarterback Bryce Jackson to be more of a passing threat. The Rams had just 68 yards passing as Jackson went 10 of 16 with an interception in the 28-7 win over the Golden Bulls.

“We’d like for him to take advantage of our receivers because we have some good ones who are ready to make those catches,” Massey said. “We know Bryce is young, but we think we can get more out of passing game so we’ve been focusing on that more.”

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