WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WNCN) – Practice at Chavis Park Wednesday for Shaw University had a different feeling to it. The Bears came ready to work, but the atmosphere had changed from earlier in the year.
Practice is a time to work. It’s when you fix problems from the previous week and iron wrinkles for the games to come.
“We definitely got a little bit of swagger,” Bears head coach Adrian Jones said.
It makes sense.
The Bears jumped all over Johnson C. Smith University in front of a homecoming crowd. They took a 17-0 lead at the half as running back Andre Brandon Jr. rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown. Linebacker Devon Hunt added 10 total tackles, two for a loss.
Shaw did allow Johnson C. Smith to get back in the game with a pair of second half TDs.
However, defensive back Akeythio Carson picked off a JCSU pass late to seal the win.
Jones said it wasn’t a bad performance, and they did get the victory, but the score was closer than it needed to be.
“We’re definitely not playing lights out football like I want to,” Jones said. “We should’ve put that game away earlier than we did. We have to know how to put teams away.”
This week, the Bears face a Winston-Salem Rams team who’s on a three-game win streak.
The issue the Bears defense face is Rams junior QB Cameron Lewis. The dual-threat signal caller finds ways to score. In their last three wins he has thrown for eight TDs and rushed for two more.
“He’s probably the biggest threat at quarterback that we’ve played this year. I mean, he’s good with his legs and he can also throw the ball,” Jones said. “It’s a challenge for us to make sure we stop him because we can’t let him get rolling.”
The Rams defense seems to have found something just in time for Shaw as well.
Their last two victories have come via shutout, so letting WSSU back into a game is not an option.
“Coach (Robert) Massey has those guys playing some really good defense and he is a great motivator,” Jones said. “I’m actually excited to play against them because he’s a good friend. Coach Massey and I know he’s going to have his guys ready, so that means I have to work hard to get my guys ready as well.”
Shaw is assured at least a .500 season with its win last weekend. But they want more.
Finishing 2021 with a four-game winning streak would be a feather in the cap of the coaching staff, the senior class, and would go a long way on the recruiting trail. With a pair of games left, the post-season picture is anything but a done deal.
“We’re still in the hunt for the playoffs. If Newberry, Mars Hill or Wingate lose some games, then we move up in the rankings,” Jones said. “We want to be 7-3 and have three winning seasons. That hasn’t happened here in 10 years, and progressing each year is important to me, my staff and my players.”
Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. inside the George Williams Complex.