Shepherd dominates Glenville, winning 37-14
There are successful college football teams all around the land that rely heavily on their linebackers to win for them. Linebackers do the run stopping. They get disruptive sacks with their blitzes. And many defensive schemes are designed for them to make the majority of the team’s tackles.
Those same successful teams find enough playmakers to make their offenses effective enough to win.
Shepherd, a time-tested dynamo of an NCAA Division II team, was a resounding success last Saturday when the university staged its annual Homecoming game on a day where the weather put up its own fight for everybody’s attention. The Rams had their linebacking corps of Octavius Thomas, James Gupton, De’Ontre Johnson and Levi Barber constantly pulling at the three-game win streak of conference rival Glenville. And it had 6-foot-4, 220-pound wide receiver Billy Brown as a kingsized playmaker with his two touchdowns.
The long-used formula of effective linebackers and a playmaking offensive force helped the Rams move past the Pioneers, 37-14, in a Mountain East Conference game that kept Shepherd on a collision course with unbeaten Concord (9-0) in what will decide the league’s championship and which teams will move on into the Division II playoffs.
Though it fell in uncharacteristic manner to Notre Dame on October 18 in Ohio, Shepherd pumped new air into its hoped-for championship balloon. Now 7-1 overall and in the league, the Rams have a date in Institute on Saturday against West Virginia State. A win in that league game will bring the Rams back home on November 15 where they’ll see Concord, a team with only Notre Dame left before it seeks its own conference title by casting its full attention toward the Rams.
Glenville has just beaten Notre Dame. It had all-conference runner Rahmann Lee as its offensive catalyst. And it scored first with an impressive 87-yard drive with its first possession.
But then Shepherd and its run-stuffing linebackers all but muzzled the Glenville runners.
After the Rams had scored the game’s next 37 points and made short work of their one-game losing “streak”, the Pioneers (4-5 overall) had gotten only 50 rushing yards on 28 attempts.
Johnson had returned a pass interception some 58 scoring yards to extend the precarious three-point lead to 17-7. Later, Gupton (the team’s leading tackler) made his own interception . . . and returned it 66 yards for another Shepherd score.
Brown outjumped shorter Pioneer defenders on a six-yard TD throw from quarterback Jeff Ziemba. He broke the game open with a 68-yard catch-run where he ran the last 55 yards to pay dirt.
Brown is Shepherd’s lone wide receiver with any size when it regularly employs William McKenzie, Tony Squirewell and Dalton Boyd.
Shepherd’s other scores came on an Allen Cross 12-yard run and placekicker Mark Murphy’s 33-yard field goal that were its first points.
After their opening drive for points, the Pioneers managed only 217 yards of total offense in the game’s last 54 minutes of uphill fight.
Linebackers and Billy Brown were a lethal combination that kept Glenville from finding a four-game win streak or snapping the three-game losing streak it had coming in against the wide-awake Rams.