Quarterback Rudy Johnson led Winston-Salem State to a 27-20 home victory against Slippery Rock Saturday in the first round of the Division II playoffs after trying week for him and his teammates.
Johnson was the victim of an attack by a group of Virginia State players eight days before the Rams’ playoff game, which led to the cancellation of the CIAA Championship Game. The cancellation denied the Rams a shot at their third consecutive CIAA championship
Johnson was the only captain that Winston-Salem coach Connell Maynor sent to midfield for the pregame coin toss, sending a message that the Rams were confident that Johnson would be on top of his game after suffering an injured right eight days earlier.
The first-team All-CIAA pick, threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 86 yards for the Rams, the No. 4 seed in their region and the top-ranked team in black college football polls.
“I was definitely happy to get back on the field and play with my teammates,’’ Johnson said.
Johnson also rushed for 86 while improving to 10-0 as the Rams’ starter. But he was far from perfect. Slippery Rock intercepted him three times to set up all three of its touchdowns. Still, the Rams (10-1), the 2012 Division II national runner-up, amassed 477 yards total offense despite four turnovers.
Winston-Salem’s defense, No. 1 in Division II, had a stellar performance. The Rams held Slippery Rock (8-3) to a season-low 210 total yards in the Rock’s first postseason appearance in 14 years.
Slippery Rock took a 6-0 lead in the first period, capitalizing on a fumble by Winston-Salem. Running back Teddy Blakeman scored on a two-yard run, but the conversion attempt was no good when the holder bobbled the snap.