RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Now halfway through the season, the Shaw University football team is finally starting to see the fruits of its labor.
The Bears’ attention to detail has them on a three-game win streak and ranked in the top 25 among HBCU’s.
“These guys work hard for it, they’ve earned it, so it’s good to see things on paper now,” Shaw head coach Adrian Jones said. “A confident football team is hard to beat, and right now we’re pretty confident.”
The Bears could always score points, but in the last three games their defense has stepped up as well.
Through the last 13 quarters of football they have given up just 13 points, most recently shutting down Virginia Union University 27-7 in their own stadium. They held the Panthers to 125 passing yards and just 41 yards rushing.
“Credit goes to coach (Gilbert) Wiggins and our defensive staff,” Jones said. “We’ve always been good at stopping the run, but now, we stop the run and the pass.”
Shaw’s next game against Fayetteville State University will be the toughest and most important of the season.
Whoever wins this game will take the lead in the CIAA Southern Division and be in the drivers seat in the race to make the conference’s championship game.
“The last few years we’ve lost to Fayetteville State, then won the rest of our games and we’d end up hoping and praying that they lose a game so we can go to the championship,” Jones said. “Why not do it the right way? Get the win and we control our own destiny.”
To do that the Bears will have to control Broncos quarterback K’Hari Lane. Through four games he’s thrown for more than 1,000 yards, tossing nine touchdowns and rushing for another for a total of 10 scores thus far.
“He’s going to get some throws in, but we have to contain him and we have to try to get back there and rattle him a little bit,” Jones said. “He’s a good football player but we got a good football team and we have to depend on our guys to make things happen.”
Familiarity breads contempt and these two CIAA Southern Division foes know each other well.
In the last six meetings with the Broncos’, Fayetteville State has come out on top each time. But, five of the match ups have been a one-score game, with four of those being by three points or less.
Finally, another added layer to the rivalry is the relationship of the head coaches.
“Coach (Richard) Hayes and I go way back to when we were coaching high school football when he was at Dudley and I was at Southern Durham,” Jones said. “We’re best friends off the field, but this week when we play, it’s different.”
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday from the George Williams Athletic Complex.