The Winston-Salem State University Rams have won the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association conference championship each of the last two seasons and advanced to the Division II National Championship game last year, where they fell to Valdosta State.
WSSU looked to repeat that feat this season after going 9-1 overall and 7-0 in conference play. Unfortunately, the Rams will not get the chance to defend their conference title.
The conference championship game was canceled Friday after WSSU starting QB Rudy Johnson was beaten up in a bathroom at a banquet the day before the game, with five players from the opposing Virginia State University Trojans being the assailants (h/t John Dell of the Winston-Salem Journal).
According to Dell, the attack occurred at the Albert H. Anderson Center on WSSU's campus. With the Rams hosting the championship game on Saturday, a banquet for both teams took place Friday afternoon on campus, during which Johnson was attacked in a restroom. Just two hours later, conference officials announced the cancellation of the game, with Johnson too injured to play due to the attack.
The Virginia State players who committed the attack have not been identified by name yet, but at least one has been taken into custody.
The cancellation of the game is actually much more detrimental to the Trojans than the Rams, as Virginia State sits right on the bubble to make the playoffs while WSSU is pretty much a lock to get in. The Trojans were also looking for their first CIAA title since 1996, but that hope is also gone.
Whether Johnson will be back in time for the playoffs is still up in the air.