Valdosta State pounds Winston-Salem State for DII football title
FLORENCE, Ala. – Winston-Salem State football coach Connell Maynor watched his unbeaten team give up a touchdown on the opening kickoff but didn’t get worried.
He’d seen it all before, a couple of times. This time the Rams couldn’t overcome Valdosta State’s fast start Saturday and fell 35-7 in the Division II national championship game, coming up short in their bid to become the first historically black school to win the crown and complete a perfect season.
Matt Pierce’s 96-yard scoring return to open the game came a year after Wayne State started the same way – only to lose to Pittsburg State.
“I was, ‘OK, history does repeat itself. They ran the opening kickoff back and we’re going to win the game,’ ” Maynor said. “I’m never going to think negative. I never thought we were going to lose the football game.”
After all the Rams (14-1) had given up a long return and first-play touchdown in the semifinals against West Texas A&M before winning 41-18.
They couldn’t do it again, or even come close.
The 17th-ranked Blazers (12-2) led 21-0 by halftime and became the lowest-ranked team to win the title. It was their 10th straight victory and first national title since 2007, coach David Dean’s debut season.
They needed 12 seconds to score and 5 minutes to build a 14-0 lead against a team that hadn’t trailed by more than a TD all season.
“They hadn’t been in that situation before and I didn’t know if they knew how to react to that, because they’d been blowing everybody out,” Dean said of the Rams
The Rams have 27 wins in the past two seasons but lost in the semis a year ago. They had six turnovers.
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