|Chase Powell scored two touchdowns on Saturday, including the game-winner. (Garrett Garms/WSSU photo)|
Week Nine in was a pivotal one in Division II football, as both the CIAA and SIAC championship game contenders have been identified.
In the CIAA, Virginia State continued its remarkable turnaround, clinching the CIAA North title in a shutout against Chowan. Meanwhile, Winston-Salem State and Fayetteville State both managed to pull out wins after trailing in the third quarter. The two will meet next Saturday in a regular-season finale that will decide the division’s championship game representative.
Winston-Salem State had a lot on the line against Shaw on Saturday. Not only were the Rams looking to stay unbeaten in conference play, they were also looking to protect a conference winning streak of 22-games. That streak started after a late-season loss to Shaw back in 2010. History nearly repeated itself as the Rams needed an epic 81-yard drive with under four minutes remaining to come away with a 28-24 win.
Down the road in Salisbury, a feisty Livingstone team had its sights set on playing spoiler for a surging Fayetteville State team. The Bears rustled the lead away from the Broncos several times, and led 31-27 with just under seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. FSU would respond quickly with an eight-yard run by Jemeryn Jenkins to seal the 34-31 win.
As fate would have it, the SIAC championship races will both be decided in next week season finales. The Fountain City Classic between Albany State and Fort Valley State is always a treat, but this year it will determine the SIAC East winner. Over in the SIAC West, Tuskegee will try to hold off Miles to represent the Western Division in the conference championship game.
Division II Power Rankings
1. Winston-Salem State (8-1, 6-0): In their toughest matchup since opening week, the Rams showed the resiliency of a championship caliber team.
2. Virginia State (8-1, 6-0): The Trojans running game and defense are clicking on all cylinders right now.
3. Tuskegee (8-1, 4-0): The Golden Tigers continue to dominate the SIAC.
4. Fayetteville State (6-3, 5-1): The Broncos may have played down to their competition on Saturday, but won’t be an easy out for WSSU.
5. Miles (5-3, 3-1): The Bears are a tough road win away from a SIAC title game appearance.