Rams puncture Bobcat upset balloon in win
BUCKHANNON – After it had beaten Notre Dame on the road the previous week, homestanding West Virginia Wesleyan had another upset vision when Shepherd visited Buckhannon last Saturday.
The game was never close. The Bobcat vision became a gold and blue nightmare of Shepherd points.
Shepherd moved smartly to a four-touchdown lead by halftime, and then cruised through the second half with 17 more points to register a 45-14 win over the Bobcats.
Now 8-0 overall as well as 8-0 in the Mountain East Conference standings, Shepherd extinguished the upset flame that flickered in the Bobcat camp after two straight conference wins had brought West Virginia Wesleyan’s conference record to 4-3 before Shepherd doused its upward hopes.
The nationally-ranked Rams have their final regular season home game tomorrow at Ram Stadium when Charleston’s Golden Eagles come in with their own season-making, upset plans. It’s Senior Day/Military Appreciation Day with a 12-noon start.
In taming the Bobcats, the Rams had leading lights on both offense and defense as well as some special teams moments – limiting the home team to 58 yards rushing while intercepting two passes and getting three sacks, and then getting three touchdown passes from Connor Jessop and totaling 440 yards of offense.
There was a 98-yard scoring drive in 11 plays. There was an 82-yard interception-return score by Jared Austin, whose second interception set the Rams up at the Bobcat 15-yard line. Ryan Feiss had a 74-yard score on a Jessop pass. Jabre Lolley had a pair of touchdown runs. And just before halftime the Rams went 75 yards in just six plays to grab a 28-0 lead at the intermission.
Jessop’s efficient afternoon included him completing 18 of 24 throws for 313 yards. He suffered no interceptions and rushed for a seven-yard score.
Feiss caught five passes for 109 yards and Cornish had six receptions for 92 yards.
Elijah Norris, one of the numerous seniors to be recognized in a short pre-game happening tomorrow, had eight tackles while newly-installed starter Chrys Lane had seven stops and senior James Gupton four tackles, including one of the sacks from his linebacker’s post.
Shepherd has now won 28 straight conference games and continues its weighty bid for a third consecutive unbeaten regular season. With other consistent senior starters like Jessop, Lolley, Tre Anderson, Lavonte Hights, Myles Humphrey, DeLonte Murray and graduate student and long snapper Nick Barmoy, the Rams have enough individual and family celebrations to see them through until at least one probable home game in the NCAA Division II Super Region One playoffs that begin on Saturday, Nov. 18.
West Virginia Wesleyan ran aground partially because it could average only 1.7 yards per run on its ground attempts.
Shepherd had remained unbeaten because it had generous contributions for nearly every part of its team.