The Rams (7-0, 7-0 MEC) took down the Urbana University Blue Knights (3-4, 2-4 MEC) by a 48-14 score at home Saturday afternoon in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
Despite the 34-point victory, things were not looking well for the Rams early on. On the second play from scrimmage for the Blue Knights, senior quarterback Tajuan Green (13/32, 240 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) found senior wide receiver Trevon Saunders (3 receptions, 82 yards, 1 TD) for a 75-yard touchdown pass that gave the Blue Knights an early 7-0 lead and that electrified the visitors’ section.
The Rams’ offense would go three-and-out on its first possession, as the drive ended with Rams senior quarterback Connor Jessop getting sacked by the Falcons junior defensive lineman Isaiah Turner for a 10-yard loss.
However, the Rams would get the ball right back, setting up at its own 47 yard line thanks to a 14-yard punt return from senior wide receiver Ryan Feiss (4 receptions, 84 yards).
With great field position, the Rams’ offense moved down the field with great precision. Jessop (16/25, 259 yards, 4 TD) would finish off the drive by finding sophomore tight end DJ Cornish (5 receptions, 66 yards, 1 TD) for a four-yard touchdown reception that gave the Rams new life, tying the game at 7-7.
Then, on the first play of the Blue Knights’ next drive, Green fumbled the football and Rams’ sophomore cornerback Chris Jones recovered the football at the Urbana 25 yard line.
On third down on the drive after the turnover, Jessop found his one of his red zone threats, junior wide receiver Wanya Allen (4 receptions, 56 yards, 2 touchdowns) for a 25-yard touchdown strike that put the Rams on top 14-7 with 8:22 to play in the first quarter.
Early on, the Blue Knights found out that they could not give the Rams good field position, particularly off of turnovers. Falling behind against the Rams is not a recipe for success for any team.
With the momentum on its side, the Rams would not let up, as the Rams would go on a 48-7 run to close out the game.
Jessop would toss two more touchdowns in the first half to bring his total to four for the game. Also, wanting to show his versatility, Jessop caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Feiss on a trick play that surprised and delighted all Rams’ fans in attendance. Jessop’s touchdown stretched the Rams’ lead to 38-7 with 2:44 to play in the first half.
Jessop scored the Rams’ sixth and final touchdown himself as well, as he scored another touchdown on a seven-yard run with 21 seconds left in the first half that gave the Rams a 45-7 halftime lead. Some way or another, Jessop played a part in all six of the Rams’ six touchdown-scoring plays, as he threw for, rushed for, and caught a touchdown. Jessop gave the Blue Knights’ defenders all kinds of headaches with his amazing performance.
The Rams’ offense could not be stopped once it got going, as it has been doing all season long. Gaining 479 total yards (279 passing, 200 rushing), the Rams displayed great efficiency on offense.
The passing game was working well for the Rams, but the offense’s ability to run the football also loomed large in the winning effort. Jessop had five carries for 45 yards to go along with his seven-yard touchdown. Sophomore running back Patrick Griffin helped pace the rushing attack with his eight carries for 65 yards. Senior running back Jabre Lolley displayed great power and vision, as he posted 10 carries for 63 yards.
Lolley also caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Jessop in the second quarter, showcasing his valuable versatility.
In the second quarter, with the Blue Knights driving down the field, Rams senior defensive end Myles Humphrey made record-breaking history, sacking Green on a third-and-nine at the Shepherd 15 yard line that brought the ball all the way back to the 26 yard line. On the play, Humphrey became the Rams’ all-time sack leader, posting his 36th sack as a Ram.
After that initial drive, Humphrey and the rest of the Rams’ defense really buckled down and made life miserable for Green and the rest of the Blue Knights’ offense. For the game, the Blue Knights had just 282 yards of total offense (240 passing, 42 rushing).
Green, junior running back Trey McFadden, sophomore running back Maurice Warren, and redshirt-freshman running back Ja’Vahri Portis all had at least a nine-yard run, but the Blue Knights could not sustain drives with their passing game. After their first drive that ended in a touchdown, Green completed just 11 out of his final 30 passes.
Senior defensive ends Bruno Anyangwe and Elijah Norris both caused great havoc for Green, as they each had two tackles for loss, two sacks, and one forced fumble. DeJuan Neal also showed great instincts with his interception in the end zone in the third quarter.
With a dominant victory such as this one, the Rams have to feel very confident going forward.
Next Saturday, Oct. 28, the Rams will try to improve their record to 8-0, as they travel to Buckhannon, W.Va., to face West Virginia Wesleyan. Gametime is at 12 p.m.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org