Shepherd defense denies Charleston; Rams go to 7-2
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Shepherd denied Charleston for the better part of the sun-splashed, football afternoon in the state’s capital city. But it was in the critical fourth quarter where the Ram defense repeatedly repulsed the Golden Eagles.
Charleston had four possessions in the last period, and could never score, as the Rams protected a slender five-point lead until the close of their 25-20 conference win.
Shepherd had three comebacks from behind, finally moving in front to stay, when Antwan Squire grabbed a 12-yard TD pass from Tyson Bagent with fully 12:36 to play.
Charleston’s final possession led it to the Shepherd 15, where it had a third-and-one situation to execute. The Rams stopped the next run short of a vital Golden Eagle first down. With only 58 seconds to play, Shepherd’s DeJuan Neal and Ponce DeLeon wrangled a Charleston runner out-of-bounds for a one-yard loss, and the Ram defense had won the day after getting seven sacks, forcing two turnovers and yielding just 13 points one of Charleston’s scores came on a 34-yard interception return.
Shepherd takes a 7-2 record into its season finale on Saturday at Ram Stadium, where Virginia-Wise provides the opposition.
Overcoming Charleston leads of 7-0, 14-13 and 20-19, the Rams had Ricky Robinson and Chrys Lane with eight tackles each, and DeLeon and Ahmad Jones with seven stops. Robinson had two-and-a-half sacks, as the Rams presented their most forceful rush on a Mountain East Conference quarterback this season.
Again, missed extra point attempts jeopardized another Shepherd afternoon, but Hayden August-Scriven did make field goals of 29 and 26 yards.
The Rams lost three turnovers and produced only 284 yards of total offense.
Staying virtually penalty-free helped the Rams remain afloat once they manufactured their last lead, with 12:36 remaining in the fourth period. There were only five penalties for 36 yards in the victory.
Defeating Charleston for the ninth straight time, the Rams improved their all-time Mountain East Conference record to 55-4, with one game left before departing for the PSAC, beginning with the 2019 season. While residing in the Mountain East Conference, Shepherd never lost to West Liberty, West Virginia Wesleyan, West Virginia State, Urbana, Charleston or Glenville. Shepherd also owns a 5-0 record against Virginia-Wise and could make the Highland Cavaliers another team it never lost to, while being a member of the MEC.