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Shepherd defense provides for a Homecoming win

By Staff | Oct 28, 2016

The overflow Homecoming crowd of about 5,300 at Ram Stadium braved the steady wind and elements and was rewarded when a miserly Shepherd defense cramped every Concord conventional offensive ploy in a Mountain East Conference game.

Shepherd’s 21-7 win over the stubborn Mountain Lions showed the Ram defense falling prey only once and that was on a flea-flicker scoring pass that fooled the youthful secondary.

Otherwise, the Rams stymied Concord’s bid for an upset and improved their overall and league record to 7-0. Shepherd continued to be ranked third in the nation behind only well-knowns Northwest Missouri State and Grand Valley State.

Concord’s offensive output was tamed by the Rams, who limited the Mountain Lions to only 11 first downs, 41 rushing yards. a paltry 1.2 yard per rushing try, 188 yards of total offense and success on just 4-of-13 third down plays. Shepherd also had four sacks on Concord quarterback Brian Novak.

Shepherd needed a savage game from its defense because it was successful on only 2-of-10 third down plays and could score points on only 2-of-7 trips to the red zone.

Concord mostly kept the usually high-scoring Rams out of its end zone.

In the second quarter alone, the Rams started a drive at Concord’s 45 and couldn’t score when quarterback Jeff Ziemba was smothered on fourth down on a planned run that got him only to the two; the next drive began at the Concord 32 and there were no Shepherd points; and following a 13-yard Concord punt into the wind, the Rams had possession at the Mountain Lion 27 . . . and couldn’t score, taking only a 14-7 lead into halftime.

With a 21-7 lead and little time remaining in the game, the Rams had a first down at the Concord three and failed to get any points again.

Shepherd linebackers Octavius Thomas had eight tackles and forced a fumble and James Gupton finished with seven stops. Defensive end Myles Humphrey was credited with seven stops and was in on one of the Rams’ sacks. Tatah Ndeh had his best statistical game of the unbeaten season with four tackles and two sacks.

Punter Ruan Venter was unfazed by the constant wind and hammered one of his specialties dead on the Concord five.

Freshman running back Brandon Hlavach scored on runs of one and 46 yards, the latter providing the Rams with seven-point, halftime lead. C.J. Davis had seven pass receptions and tight end Jamie Deason had three catches for 76 yards — his most receptions in any game this season.

Concord couldn’t run

and Novak was not

effective at all. And Shepherd could claim a defense-provided win that kept it moving in the right direction toward another NCAA Division II berth in the Super Region One playoffs that open on Nov, 19 with seven teams jousting for the chance to reach the national championship game in Kansas City in mid December.