Rivers, Slippery Rock offense too much for Shepherd
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Shepherd faced a true All-American in its NCAA Division II second round playoff game. Slippery Rock quarterback Roland Rivers III, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound transfer from Valdosta State (Georgia), generated too much offense for the Rams to withstand.
Rivers threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns in leading the unbeaten Rock to a convincing 51-30 win before a smallish crowd of about 1,800 in Slippery Rock’s 10,000-seat stadium.
Rivers helped propel the fast-starting Rock to a 20-0 lead, as Shepherd’s turnovers hampered it from the outset. With wide receiver Jermaine Wynn, Jr., being frequently targeted by Rivers, Slippery Rock began to immediately amass a huge total offense number. Wynn finished his record-setting afternoon, with 18 receptions and 229 yards as Slippery Rock rang up 652 yards of total offense. Not far behind was Shepherd with its 528 yards of total offense.
Slippery Rock ran off 88 plays and Shepherd trailed with just 64 plays.
Once it showed it could range downfield against Slippery Rock’s defense without losing a turnover, Shepherd fought back behind its pass offense and the ground yardage provided by Deonte Glover.
The 20-point Shepherd deficit was completely erased when the Rams managed to get even at 23-23.
But then Rivers, Wynn and company loosed their offense anew. And Slippery Rock forged a 37-23 lead on Rivers’ TD passes to Wynn and Charles Snorweah, who also rushed for 162 yards on 21 carries.
Again, Shepherd came back; this time clawing to within 37-30, when Bagent threw his fourth touchdown pass, the last going to Devin Phelps for 67 yards. Phelps had three of Bagent’s scoring passes.
Rivers and his non-stop offense generated two more scores before the cold and slate-gray afternoon of hotly contested football closed.
Shepherd’s five turnovers (as compared to Slippery Rock’s one) could not be hidden. Neither could Rivers and his 31-for-47 passing stat. Rivers III had started 18 games at Valdosta State before transferring to Slippery Rock just before the 2018 season began. He punctured the Shepherd defense with his on-target throws and also ran for 33 yards.
Slippery Rock had 36 first downs and converted nine of 16 third down snaps into first downs.
Going into this weekend’s Super Region One title game against Notre Dame (Ohio), Rivers shows season marks of 4,449 yards of total offense, 3,825 passing yards, 44 touchdown passes, a pass efficiency rating that leads the nation and 302 points accounted for.
The Rams completed their season with a 10-3 overall record that included eight consecutive wins before Slippery Rock cut off that streak.
Slippery Rock (12-0) faces once-beaten Notre Dame (12-1) on Saturday. Notre Dame’s loss was to Glenville.
Generally, Shepherd’s generous offensive numbers would have been enough to get it a win, but not against Rivers and his more generous offensive numbers.