HAMPTON—The last stragglers were leaving the stadium, the band was wrapping up and the setting sun was beating down on his back.
But Wakeem Goode didn't move. The Hampton senior linebacker sat frozen on his helmet at the 45-yard line, shoulders hunched, staring at nothing.
Winston-Salem State nearly tripled its scoring average with a season-high point total in a 35-30 victory against Hampton on Saturday that gave the Rams (2-6) just their second win. The Pirates (5-3) lost their second straight game despite 450 yards of offense as their rally from a 25-point deficit fell short on homecoming.
Sophomore quarterback Herb Bynes threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns, both of them to Justin Brown less than five minutes apart in the fourth quarter as the Pirates pulled within five. But a two-point conversion failed when running back Gerard Griffin slipped on a direct snap, and Bynes, facing third-and-long after an intentional-grounding penalty, was intercepted on Hampton's next possession with 1:39 left.
"Any time we have that much talent, there's no way they should beat us," Hampton coach Jerry Holmes said. "We got speed, we got guys up front — there's no way. There's no way they should have beat us."
But some of the Pirates' talent was conspicuously absent. Leading rusher LaMarcus Coker didn't play after missing practice all week with an ankle injury, while second-leading rusher Dennis Mathis, a sophomore out of Phoebus High School, missed the game for disciplinary reasons.
"He don't show up for practice, he don't show up for treatment, and that sort of thing, so that's why he didn't play," Holmes said. "He hurt the team just by his selfish ways."
Griffin, a sophomore who had 53 yards on 10 carries coming into the game, rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown, but the Pirates were outgained 194-102 on the ground by a Rams team averaging just 108 yards on the ground and 12 points a game.
"I'm not really sure (what happened)," said Goode, who had a game-high 15 tackles. "I'm going to have to take it back to the film room and actually see. I know they were gashing us pretty good at times."
The game turned on a hard-to-believe play with six minutes left in the first quarter. Hampton trailed 7-3 when Carlos Turavani attempted a 50-yard field goal. The kick was low and caught in the end zone by David Irizarry, who held the ball for at least 10 seconds before finally taking off with Hampton defenders closing in. He didn't stop until he reached the other end zone for a 100-yard return that put the Rams up 14-3.
"David really stepped up and turned a bonehead play into one of the best plays I've seen all season," said Winston-Salem State coach Kermit Blount, who tied Bill Hayes for first place on the school's all-time victory list with his 89th win.
Bynes' 1-yard run made it a four-point game on the first play of the second quarter, but Winston-Salem State quarterback Jarrett Dunston capped a pair of drives with 1-yard sneaks to make it 28-10 at halftime. The Rams opened the third quarter with Dominique Fitzgerald's 65-yard kickoff return to the Hampton 20, and two plays later, Dunston's 20-yard touchdown run put the Rams up 35-10.
Hampton rallied, though, starting with Griffin's 9-yard TD. Bynes and Brown then hooked up for two fourth-quarter scores, but after the second, Griffin fell as the Pirates went for two.
"I just couldn't hold my feet and just slipped," Griffin said. "In crunch time, I slipped. I can't blame nobody but myself."
Hampton got the ball back with 3:16 to play and drove to the Rams' 33, but Bynes was called for intentional grounding before being intercepted on third-and-26. The Pirates got one last chance with 34 seconds left, but after an 8-yard completion to Griffin, Bynes was sacked as the clock expired.
"We had a chance," Bynes said. "As long as we've got time on the clock and we're still on the field and I'm still going, there's always a chance for us to win. We just came up a little short."
WINSTON-SALEM STATE 35, HAMPTON 30