Shepherd methodically plays it way into playoff picture
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Weeks ago, just after Kutztown had scored a late-game touchdown to beat Shepherd, 34-27, it appeared the Rams would probably miss the NCAA Division II playoffs for the second straight season.
But then the resilient Rams won four consecutive PSAC games to move the record to 6-2 and had risen to eighth place in the Super Region One ratings. Seven teams will reach the playoffs. After dismantling East Stroudsburg, 76-34 on Saturday, Shepherd is riding a five-game winning streak into Bloomsburg this weekend.
Last Saturday’s results saw then fifth-place West Virginia State lose to Charleston and move its record against Division II competition to 6-2. The Yellow Jackets have a game remaining against unbeaten Notre Dame, the third-rated team in the poll last week.
West Chester was sixth last week, but fell to unbeaten Kutztown and saw its record slip to 7-2. Shepherd defeated West Chester in October.
Kutztown, Slippery Rock and Notre Dame are all unbeaten going into games on Nov. 9.
Rated fourth last week was Indiana (Pa.) with a record of 8-1 after winning on Nov. 2. Urbana of the Mountain East Conference was rated sixth and still has a 6-2 overall record.
Behind Shepherd’s eighth place rating was once-beaten Tiffin (Ohio) of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Ohio Dominican, which defeated Shepherd in both teams’ season opener on Sept. 7, was rated 10th with its 5-2 overall record. Ohio Dominican is also a member of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Concerning Shepherd’s mid-season resurgence and move back into the PSAC championship picture, that scenario was dashed when both Slippery Rock and Kutztown won their games on Saturday.
Both those teams clinched their respective divisions (West and East) to qualify for the conference championship game to be played at Kutztown on Nov. 16.
Shepherd will close its 11-game regular season on Nov. 16 at home, when it hosts Seton Hill of the West Division at 12-noon on Senior Day. Should the Rams finish the season with a 9-2 overall record and qualify for the playoffs, their first game in the Super Region One feuding will take place on Nov. 23.