Large homecoming crowd sees Rams remain unbeaten
Unbeaten. Untied. But not uninjured. That’s Shepherd’s football team after the Rams downed Notre Dame (Ohio), 43-14, on Homecoming Weekend in Shepherdstown.
And now the Rams have an open date this Saturday where some of their injured players might heal enough to be available on October 10 when they next play at conference rival Glenville.
To beat Notre Dame, the Rams had to at least partially contain the contributions of Falcon quarterback Malik Grove, who either threw or ran on 67 of his team’s offensive plays. Shepherd’s defense did its job well in helping the Rams move their record to 4-0 before a near full-house crowd of over 4,100 old grads, young grads, families and friends.
While Grove was trying to orchestrate with his constant individual offense, Shepherd was achieving a steady stream of points with “home run” type plays and momentum-bringing contributions from a long list of players from both its defense and offense.
The Rams led, 27-7, at halftime.
Despite a 27-yard field goal from Ryan Earls, Shepherd trailed for mere minutes when the Falcons went in front, 7-3 by moving 77 yards in nine plays.
On the kickoff just after Notre Dame’s go-ahead points, Shepherd return specialist C.J. Davis wheeled through the middle of the startled Falcon coverage unit and went 88 yards to the Falcon two. Jabre Lolley scored for the Rams . . . and Notre Dame had held a very short-lived lead it would never see again.
The half’s next 17 points were all Shepherd’s.
Earls made a 26-yard field goal, quarterback Jeff Ziemba connected with Dalton Boyd on a 27-yard pass-catch scoring play and then the Rams shoved the Falcons nearly out of sight when Ziemba found Angelo Jean-Louis with a long-range, 77-yard touchdown throw.
Shepherd already had 318 yards of total offense at the half. Notre Dame’s Grove was completing very short throws, hoping for yardage after the catches from his closely covered receivers. But Notre Dame had just 129 passing yards with its 18 completions.
When the Rams scored the first nine points of the second half, more of the same handwriting was covering the wall . . . and Notre Dame trailed, 36-7, with the third quarter gone.
Lolley had run 63 yards for a score, but even that number was trumped when Tyrell Hollingsworth took in stride a 71-yard scoring dart in the fourth quarter from reserve quarterback Connor Jessop.
Of Shepherd’s 551 yards of total offense, Ziemba threw for 305 passing yards, while Grove averaged six yards a Falcon reception with his 34 completions in 54 attempts.
Jaylen Johnson, Keon Robinson, Davis and Phillip Rhoden were Shepherd’s leading tacklers, and the Rams’ Shaneil Jenkins sacked Grove, making it the first time all season any team had done that to the Falcon quarterback.
Shepherd can attend to its injured offensive linemen, linebackers and defensive linemen this week as it prepares for the narrow, winding road to see once-beaten Glenville at 1 p.m. in Gilmer County on Oct. 10.