McLaughlin, Ross score enough to beat Shepherd
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Jale McLaughlin rushed for 302 yards and two long-distance scores, while Marvelle Ross accounted for three touchdowns, as Notre Dame held off Shepherd’s last-quarter charge to win, 35-33, in the season opener for both Mountain East Conference teams.
McLaughlin had runs of 75 and 76 yards, netting him scores and averaging 13.7 yards-per-carry with his 22 runs. Ross scored Notre Dame’s first three touchdowns, with receptions of nine yards and 24 yards, and a first-quarter punt return of 57 yards.
Numerous Shepherd players were making their first-ever collegiate starts, none with more influence on the outcome than freshman quarterback Tyson Bagent, who completed 36 of his 56 passes for 518 yards and three scores. However, Bagent was intercepted three times, twice by Guam Lee, who made nine tackles in addition to his pass thefts.
The Rams once trailed by 18 points in the second half, after McLaughlin’s 76-yard scoring run.
But then Shepherd scored the game’s final 16 points, to move within two points of the lead with only 1:10 left to play. After Zyan Sturdivant’s six-yard made it a 35-33 game, Bagent was stopped short on the subsequent two-point conversion attempt.
Shepherd wide receivers Ryan Feiss and Wanya Allen were resourceful pass-catch, offensive forces for the Rams. Feiss had 13 receptions for 172 yards and a score, while Allen caught 11 passes for 165 yards and one score.
Ross had seven catches for 84 yards, and two TD’s for the Falcons.
In dissecting the play-by-play account of the game, one of the most critical happenings concerning the outcome was in the last frantic seconds of the first half, where Shepherd trailed only 14-7.
The Rams were at the Notre Dame two-yard line, with the clock nearly spent. Feiss tried his only run of the afternoon, but could reach only the one. Seven seconds remained in the half. Shepherd had Hayden August-Scriven attempt a field goal from the eight that he made. But the Rams trailed, 14-10, leading into the dressing rooms at the half. They would lose by two points.
Shepherd owned most of the statistical categories. But the scoreboard didn’t care.
There were 26 Shepherd first downs and only 16 for the Falcons. Shepherd’s total offense yardage ran all the way to 599 yards, as compared with Notre Dame’s 421 yards. The Rams had 82 plays to Notre Dame’s 60 plays. The staggering Shepherd pass yardage number was 518, while the Falcons made but 110 yards through the air.
But the Falcons ran for 311 yards and Shepherd managed only 81 ground yards.
Chrys Lane buoyed the Shepherd defense with his 15 tackles and one sack. David Eppard, a first-time starter, made seven tackles.
Curtis Collins paced the Notre Dame defense with his 12 stops, and RJ Goodwin was credited with eight tackles.
The Rams were penalized only six times for 37 yards, and Notre Dame was flagged eight times for 47 yards.
Reliable Shepherd punter Ruan Ventor had three boots for a 44.7 yard average.
Shepherd lost. That after going unbeaten in conference play in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Those three halcyon seasons saw the Rams victorious in 30 consecutive regular season games.
This will be a bye week for the Rams. They will return on Sept. 15 for their first home game against Glenville State, trying to recover from a conference loss for only the third time in 51 games.