Rams Improve 5-0

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Last season, the Shepherd Rams and Charleston Golden Eagles engaged in a football game of epic proportions. In one of their toughest match-ups of the season, the Rams emerged victorious by a score of 16-10. So when the Rams took on Charleston this past Saturday, the expectations for the game were fairly high. The game was never really out of sight, but the Rams managed to win by a fair score, that being a final of 28-9.

Due to a non-existent passing game, the Rams had to rely heavily on the run game. The Rams posted an amazing 274 yards on the ground, adding three touchdowns in the process.  Elkridge, Md. native Allen Cross led the team with 156 yards on the ground and a touchdown late in the third quarter. His touchdown was a major turning point in the game, as it shifted the momentum back in favor of the Rams. Cross spoke very highly of his teammates after the game: “Our offensive deserves all the credit for the success in the running game. They were the ones clearing the huge holes for us to run through the entire game. Without those guys, we wouldn’t have had nearly the success that we are enjoying so far this season.” Those are some very strong and encouraging words from the sophomore running back.

Not to be outshined on the afternoon, redshirt-freshman running back Jabre Lolley rushed for 104 yards and had two second-half touchdowns in the big victory. Lolley spoke about the physical play on the afternoon, saying, “We played a very physical game against a very tough Charleston squad. Wins like this feel so good because it’s a result of the hard work and effort we put in week after week.” These are even more encouraging words from the Shepherd running backs. No doubt the offensive line has been putting in the work during the week; offensive coordinator Ernie McCook wouldn’t have it any other way.

Junior quarterback Trae Tinsman did not have the best of performances against Charleston, as he never found his rhythm like he did in weeks past. Tinsman went 6 for 14 with only 53 yards passing on the day. Even though the Winchester, Va. native had his struggles, coach Monte Cater spoke highly of his quarterback. “The first half was tough as we had turnovers and struggled with the passing game, but once the running attack picked up, we were able to keep the offense on the field and keep Trae from taking the big hits. Trae is continuing to improve every week and when he is given time, Trae can make the plays needed for our offense to be successful.”

It seems like every week, the Rams’ defense can shut down any given offense. They did it once again against the Golden Eagles of Charleston. The Rams held Charleston’s offense to just a total of 240 yards and only allowed nine points on the afternoon. Junior defensive back Dontrewell Kelley had a pivotal fourth quarter interception that led to a Rams touchdown, putting the game out of Charleston’s reach. After the game, Kelley pointed to conditioning as the key to victory. “We out-conditioned Charleston; you could see them getting tired in the second half, which allowed us to make the key plays on both sides of the ball to gain the victory.” Those are words that will make strength and conditioning coach Jeremy Overfelt smile from ear to ear. He puts a heavy emphasis on conditioning.  Should you stop by the end of a Rams football practice, chances are you will see them running some form of wind sprints. It’s what helps the team win in the fourth quarter.

The defense kept the pressure on Charleston’s quarterback Maurice Leak all game long as they garnered three sacks and only allowed 154 passing yards. Coach Cater praised the defense on another strong performance: “The defense played well again and it shows that when we are playing our style of football; it’s hard for anybody to put up a lot of yards against us.”

With the win, the Rams improve to 5-0 overall on the season. It puts them to a 3-0 conference record in the first edition of the Mountain East Conference. Shepherd will be on the road next Saturday as they travel to UVA-Wise for a 12 p.m. showdown. Should they win, that long bus ride will feel an awful lot shorter.