For only the second time since 2014 the Shepherd Rams have been defeated, last year’s National Championship game against Northwest Missouri State, 34-7, and Dec. 10, against the North Alabama Lions, 23-13, ending their perfect season a week before they had planned.
“Going 26-2 over the last two years is pretty impressive,” said Head Coach Monte Cater after the game.
The Rams showed a lot of promise on the opening drive of the game taking the ball down the field and finding the end zone to take an early 7-0 lead. No one would expect that it would be the last time Shepherd’s explosive offense would score a touchdown. North Alabama would crack the scoreboard with a field goal making the score 7-3 after one quarter of play.
The Lions would score four times in the second quarter — two touchdowns and two field goals, while the Rams managed just a field goal, giving North Alabama the lead 20-10 heading into the halftime break.
There would only be two scores the entire second half with each defense locking down the opposing offense, allowing each to only put a field goal on the scoreboard and as the clock wound down to all zeros the North Alabama team found themselves heading to the National Championship, defeating the Rams by a score of 23-13.
The usually explosive Jeff Ziemba was contained today, going only 11-28 for 112 yards and one touchdown. Favorite target Billy Brown had just two receptions for 17 yards.
“They did a great job of containing Billy, which impacted our offense,” said Senior Captain and Quarterback Jeff Ziemba
The lone bright spot for the Rams offense was Bandon Hlavach who finished the day with 97 yards on 24 carries.
The Rams defense played some of their best football of the season in the second half of the game and kept the game within reach for the offense. Octavius Thomas was Shepherd’s most active defender, finishing the day with eight tackles and a forced fumble.