WASHINGTON, D.C. - Willie Carter scored the game's only touchdown and it proved to be just enough as the defense did the rest as Howard University edged Winston-Salem State 7-3 in a non-conference game at Greene Stadium before 2,883.
The first half featured a contest between the two punters, who had career days. The Rams' freshman punter Landen Thayer had 10 punts that averaged almost 47 yards per attempt with many of them seeming to hang forever before coming down. Although the Bison had what would have been field position advantage, Thayer negated it with his booming punts.
"He was kicking the ball well," said Howard head coach Carey Bailey. "He did a great job in helping them in the field position game and that was certainly a factor in the first half."
Howard's punter, Patrick Wolff was equally effective. Although he lacked the overall distance of Thayer's punts, he was especially effective placing the ball inside the 10-yard line 5 times, including two that landed inside the two-yard line.
"Patrick played a phenomenal game; he gave us exactly what we needed," praised Coach Bailey. "He made them work the long field and that was a factor." Wolff averaged 40 yards on 8 attempts.
The second half hinged on the play of the defenses and the individual talent of Carter, who made three big catches during the game's only TD drive. The Bison went 70 yards in eight plays with Carter capping off the drive with a 20-yard strike from Floyd Haigler (18 of 44, 193 yards).
"They were playing heavy on the 3 wide receiver side, so we had Carter on the backside with one-on-one coverage," said Bailey of the second half adjustment.
From there, Howard (2-2) appeared to take control and twice had good field position but both times they were thwarted, first by a missed field goal and then by an interception.
Winston-Salem State (0-5) finally got on the board when they manufactured a gritty, 10-play drive. The Howard defense held, however, and forced a 43-yard field by Thayer with 8:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Howard held on downs on the Rams' next possession and forced a punt but Jeff Miller fumbled and gave the Rams' excellent field position at the Howard 14-yard line with a little over three minutes left.
But Winston-Salem State, which has lost 5 straight games in a season for the first time since 1975, had a bad snap on first down that lost 14 yards. The Rams never recovered as the Bison led by Will Croner's sack and pressure on the quarterback, held on downs and took over to run out the clock.
"Our backs were against the wall," explained Croner, who was the MEAC Co-Defensive Player of the Week. "Our job was to keep them out of the end zone. The entire defense had the mentality of making a play and doing what we needed to do to achieve that." The Bison defense limited the Rams to 139 yards of total offense.
On the offensive side, Carter finished with 116 yards on seven receptions. It marked the third time in his young career that he has eclipsed 100-yard mark receiving in a game. Freshman running back Andra Williams chipped in with a career high 53 yards on 11 carries.
There were several standouts on defense including Ian Simon (9 tackles), Martin Corniffe (5 tackles), Keith Pough (4 tackles, 2 for losses) and Gerald Jackson (4 tackles, a tackle for a loss).
It was the first time that the Bison have won two straight since the 2007 season.
"It feels good to be 2-2 and we are enjoying the win, but at 12:01, we're focusing on Hampton."
NEXT UP: The Bison will travel to Hampton, VA to take on the Pirates on Saturday at 6 pm.