Defense wins championships; that has been debated since the first introduction of American football. Shepherd proved that their defense can help carry the team to victory, Saturday Sept.14. The Rams defeated Fairmont 27-7.
The theme of the game was defense as both teams struggled to find their groove offensively. The Rams only mustered 171 yards of total offense for the game. Junior quarterback Trae Tinsman fell completely off the map as he only went 5-14 with one touchdown and one interception. Against Shippensburg, Tinsman was the strong point of the offense, but against Fairmont State, he was held in check.
Shepherd’s running game carried the load for the offense with 148 total rushing yards, leading to two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman running back Jabre Lolley was the team’s leading rusher as he racked up 70 yards on the ground with one touchdown; Lolley’s score tied up the game early on. Sophomore running back Allen Cross also came through in the running game, rushing for 53 yards with one rushing touchdown.
The running game for Fairmont State was completely irrelevant as they only managed to gain 52 yards and average 1.5 yards per carry.
Shepherd’s defense only gave up 251 yards of total offense while forcing three turnovers. Junior outside linebacker De’Ontre Johnson led the defense with eight tackles. However, the star of the defense was junior outside linebacker Levi Barber with seven tackles, one interception, and one fumble recovery for an 89-yard touchdown.
Fairmont State’s offense looked to make a statement against the staggering Shepherd defense, but were completely shut down. Freshman quarterback Cooper Hibbs was never able to figure out an answer to the Rams’ defense as he only had 155 yards of passing while being sacked 3 times and throwing one crucial interception that lead to a Shepherd touchdown.
The Rams’ defense showed how impressive they were on Saturday. The Rams’ defense has only given up 468 yards of total offense and seven total points in two games. This defense has been stifling in 2013 and if they continue to perform at that level, it will be difficult for any offense to even put up points.
With the win, Shepherd now stands at 2-0 with a conference record of 1-0. The Rams’ next game is Saturday Sept. 21 against Urbana. It will be the first time the two schools are meeting as members of the new Mountain East Conference. Look for the offense to do it’s best to rebound against their Ohio-based opponent.