Brown, with much help from his friends, burns Assumption
Whether it was catching touchdown passes with one hand, using his physical advantage to outmuscle Assumption defenders or make catches in a thicket of bodies, Shepherd receiver Billy Brown simply owned the football stage that was Ram Stadium on an afternoon with weather of crazy-quilt proportion . . . and a 48-31 Ram victory.
Brown was Shepherd’s all-time record-setter before he caught 12 passes from fellow senior Jeff Ziemba for 193 yards and a much-needed three scores. But what he did against the Massachusetts-based Greyhounds was a true tale to be talked about for decades to come by those who saw it.
Brown had nine catches by halftime. The Rams held a 28-16 lead by then. But with the “home run” touchdowns coming like the fast-falling leaves brought down by a strong weather front just reaching Shepherds-town, no 12-point lead could be seen as safe enough.
A gusty wind accompanied by a slight rain and quickly falling temperatures might mean the elements would become the third man in the ring with the Rams and Greyhounds.
When Assumption couldn’t move the Shepherd defense with its first possession of the last half, the Rams struck through the gloom with C.J. Davis slanting across the middle and taking a completed pass 67 yards, boosting the lead to 34-16. Davis’ points were the spearhead of a half that produced 35 more combined points but also saw the Shepherd defense become more effective behind the plays made by Octavius Thomas, James Gupton, Marshall Mundin, Myles Humphrey and Chris Jones.
It was not a mundane or routine game for Shepherd’s special teams. It was mostly feast or famine . . . and it wasn’t without peril or pleasure.
Davis ran 89 yards with the opening kickoff, reaching the Greyhound eight. Ziemba scored on the first play after everybody concerned had caught their breath. Assumption’s Deonte Harris ran 97 yards to score with a kickoff return to resuscitate Assumption’s chances after it fell back, 14-0, when Brown had his first TD reception.
The Rams blocked two point-after tries by the Greyhounds. A blocked punt by Tre Sullivan led to another Shepherd score . . . but Assumption recovered one onside kick, and with dame fortune firmly planting a kiss on the Rams, had somehow failed to recover another one before it almost miraculously squirted out of bounds with the Rams getting possession.
The opportunistic Greyhounds also had a near-score on a 50-yard kickoff return.
Davis ran a zig-zag course with a kickoff near his own end zone before finding himself at the sideline in front of the home stands. He finally moved forward and went 99 yards into the Assumption end zone . . . but the run was negated by a Shepherd penalty.
Special teams for both sides had been especially good or especially bad.
Shepherd recorded six sacks and only ceded 215 yards of total offense.
At the end of the once-bright, once-calm day made foreboding by the weather revolution, there wasn’t much ordinary that had happened.
But Shepherd had won its first-round playoff game and had a date this weekend in New York state with an equally unbeaten L.I.U. Post team that broke out to a 24-point lead before finally moving past Winston-Salem Sate, 48-41, in another first-round game.
Billy Brown had his even-dozen receptions and three touchdowns . . . and the Rams had an 11-0 record to transport to Brookville, New York for the Super Region One semifinals.