Tarnished by penalties, turnovers, Shepherd falls to Kutztown
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Maybe it was appropriate. Maybe it was bound to happen.
It was the last of 16 penalties for 124 yards assessed Shepherd that finally drowned the Rams. A pass interference call in their end zone staggered the oft-flagged Rams and gave Kutztown a first down at the two. Golden Bear quarterback Collin DiGalbo connected with Tyler Borg for those final two yards of a quick-strike, 79-yard drive in just 3:17 of clock time that dragged Shepherd down, 34-27, in a rousing — if error-filled — PSAC East Division game.
Kutztown rebounded from a 14-0, first-quarter deficit to remain unbeaten with a 4-0 overall mark. Shepherd slipped to 2-2 overall with the loss that came on a sun-drenched, homecoming afternoon before an announced crowd of just over 5,800 witnesses.
Shepherd was actually penalized on the game’s first play and then the last play that meant anything.
The game-deciding touchdown pass by DiGalbo came with only 13 seconds remaining.
Kutztown was often hamstrung by the 10 penalties for 99 yards that it was stung by.
There were three turnovers by Shepherd that were important and a fourth one that came on the game’s last convoluted play as the Rams tried to lateral their way downfield on a short completed pass. The Golden Bears, who also own a nationally noticed win over conference rival California, lost one turnover.
The game had only one punt, that by Kutztown.
Even with its vital 34 points, the Golden Bears had to look toward Shawn Turber-Ortiz and give him knowing glances after he totaled 16 tackles and intercepted two passes in the comeback victory.
Once Kutztown began scoring, the game’s fabric took on the appearance of a tense video game with a back-and-forth tendency.
But Shepherd took a 14-0 lead before the Golden Bears could score in the second period.
Scoring passes to Devin Phelps and Dylan Brewer from Tyson Bagent had Kutztown in first-quarter trouble. But a pair of roughing the passer penalties helped the Golden Bears downfield to an early second quarter score.
Still trailing, 14-6, Kutztown intercepted Bagent as he threw off his back foot with a defender clinging to one leg. Quickly, DiGalbo found Mason McElroy and Jack Pilkerton for completions . . . and the Shepherd lead was only 14-12.
Just before the half closed, Shepherd’s Hayden August-Scriven booted a field goal that allowed the Rams to seek the much-needed shade of their dressing quarters at the intermission.
A 75-yard drive with the second half’s first possession got the Golden Bears their first lead at 20-17. But Shepherd answered with its first possession of the half by traveling 70 yards along a penalty-strewn path (for both sides) that was closed when Jerome Washington scored with a Bagent completion.
Into the fourth period, Turber-Ortiz intercepted Bagent a second time at the Kutztown 35.
A lengthy pass reception run by Pilkerton carried all the way to Rams’ 10 before McElroy took DiGalbo’s pass . . . and Kutztown inched ahead, 27-24.
August-Scriven made a 31-yard Shepherd field goal, making it 27-27 with just 3:17 to play.
Kutztown hurried downfield, used the 16th penalty against Shepherd, scored . . . and won.
Homecoming was basically over, except for food provided on the lawn at McMurran Hall as a last get-together for the old grads.
There were no personal fouls, roughing the passer calls or other assorted infractions against the Rams on the McMurran lawn.