WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — There was a buzz in the late summer air as the Winston-Salem State football team walked off the field at Bowman Gray Stadium on Saturday night.
WSSU won in its home-opener, beating Elizabeth City State 24-7. That point total may not be earth-shattering, but for a program that has averaged less than 18 points per game in each of the past three seasons, it was a good win in front of a crowd starved for them.
“The reality is that’s a buy-in win. New offensive staff — there’s some good things,” head coach Robert Massey said after the game. “Like I said, we got the improvement we won in a good fashion, by a couple of points. So, we just got room, has got to continue to build up there. I’m excited, but at the end of day, we got to go right back to work.”
Elizabeth City State actually outgained WSSU and won the time-of-possession battle, but malfunctioned with 11 penalties for 69 yards as it fell to 1-2 on the season.
Winston-Salem State put up 245 yards of offense, including rushing for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 32 attempts. Running back Asa Barnes led the way with 92 yards and one touchdown.
The offense was under the direction of quarterback Daylin Lee, who threw one touchdown and rushed for another in the win in his first game at Bowman Gray Stadium.
“It was amazing,” Lee said. “The first couple of drives it kind of hit me — I’m playing in Bowman Gray as a Winston-Salem State Ram. It was something special. The atmosphere is way different and I just love it here.”
The freshman from Shelby, NC hit R.J. Mobley for a 10-yard touchdown in the second half after ECSU had cut the lead to 10-7 midway through the third quarter. Lee was key in that third quarter, engineering two touchdown drives and executing Winston-Salem State offensive coordinator Chris Barnette’s offense in a manner that really put the game out of reach.
Massey said that Lee won over the coaching staff in fall camp, which helped him win the starting job ahead of the opener against North Carolina Central.
“When a kid starts making progress and continue to improve, we have to give him the opportunity,” Massey said. “and I think he’s done an outstanding job with the opportunity that’s been given to him.”
WSSU will look to put a win streak together next week when it hosts CIAA newcomer Bluefield State University at Bowman Gray.