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Highly-ranked Rams defeat Charleston, 38-22

By Staff | Sep 16, 2016

With its 38-22 road win over Charleston, Shepherd moved its record to 2-0 and is back at home this Saturday against Virginia-Wise.

For the second straight game the Rams trailed in the early going, but gained final control in the second half to keep their Top Five national ranking.

After a field goal gave the Rams a 3-0 lead, Charleston took a 14-3 lead barely into the second period.

Trailing by 11 points, the Rams went to wide receiver Billy Brown for two scores before the half ended. With Brown’s scoring catches from record-setting quarterback Jeff Ziemba the Rams held a 16-14 lead by halftime.

Ziemba completed 15 passes in the Thursday night game, giving him the career completions mark at Shepherd. Brown would finish with seven catches, giving him the career mark for number of receptions in his three-plus seasons with the unbeaten Rams.

A Ziemba-to-C.J. Davis pass that covered 45 yards extended Shepherd’s lead to 22-16, but the second straight extra point attempt failed.

The next eight points were Charleston’s when D’Andre Brooks hauled in a 46-yard scoring pass and then Ryan Gamber caught a two-point conversion pass.

Tied at 22-22, the Rams went ahead in the fourth quarter on Ziemba’s one-yard carry. Zach Wise, trying his first point-after attempt of the young season, was good.

Shepherd punter Ruan Venter backed the Golden Eagles near their end zone with an effective punt that was downed on the one. Venter has averaged 48.6 per punt in Shepherd’s two games.

A Charleston penalty in its end zone gave the Rams a safety and added two points to their lead which went to 31-22.

Back again, the Rams completed their scoring on freshman Brandon Hlavach’s three-yard run. Wise’s point-after made it 38-22.

Inside linebackers James Gupton and Octavius Thomas were Shepherd’s leading tacklers with 11 and 10 stops respectively as the Rams’ defense didn’t allow much ground yardage.

Davis had two long returns to greatly help Shepherd’s field position.

After holding its penalties in check in the opening win over West Virginia Wesleyan, Shepherd had 14 penalties, including personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct and holding infractions. Three other would-be penalties against the Rams were declined by Charleston. Ziemba was sacked three times after being sacked three times in the season-opener.

Charleston had lost only one regular season game in 2015 and that was to Shepherd. The Golden Eagles were one of seven teams invited to the Super Region One playoffs in NCAA Division II ranks.

The Rams will take the nation’s No. 4 ranking into Saturday’s 12-noon game against the Highland Cavaliers, who are 1-1 overall.

It will be Athletic Hall of Fame weekend on campus.