The highly anticipated first Mountain East matchup between Shepherd and Urbana was a game in which no one had a clue what to expect, as this was the first ever meeting between the two institutions. However, this was one of those games that came right down to the wire as Shepherd pulled out the 28-21 victory.
“As a team, we played hard and through the mistakes for a big win over a very good football team,” said head coach Monte Cater.
In the first half, Shepherd’s offense was pushing all cylinders as sophomore running back Allen Cross put the first points on the board with a tenacious 17-yard touchdown run. Senior wide receiver Robert Byrd of Alexandria, Va. then rushed for a touchdown followed up by a 44-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Trae Tinsman of Winchester, Va. to junior wide receiver Justin Ford of Lusby, Md.
The Rams had a 21-6 lead at halftime, but nearly lost it as Urbana’s All-American senior quarterback D.J. Mendenhall of West Jefferson, Ohio put their offense on his back and almost led Urbana to the upset victory. Mendenhall threw for 349 yards with 27 completions that included three touchdowns (two in the second half) and one interception. After the game Coach Cater had quite a few words about Mendenhall.
“Our defense did a good job against a quarterback who is an all-American and is capable of making big plays at anytime,” he said.
The Rams’ offense was not perfect against Urbana, but they performed strong when it mattered. Cross led the ground game with an impressive performance. Cross rushed 25 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner on a two-yard run with 4:30 left in regulation.
Tinsman had a solid day as he went 19-28 with 267 yards, two touchdowns, and only one interception.
“Last week, our offense struggled, but we did a good job on getting back into what we do best,” said Tinsman.
The Rams’ defense had their hands full with Urbana’s passing attack, but they played well enough to hang on to their third straight victory of the season. Junior cornerback Dontrewell Kelley of District Heights, Md. led the Rams with seven tackles, six of which were solo. Sophomore cornerback Phillip Rhoden of Columbia, Md. made one of the biggest plays of the day as he picked off Mendenhall early in the first quarter, which lead to a Rams touchdown.
The student support at the games has been strong each and every week and players notice that too.
“We as a team, thank the fans for coming out in the rain to support us. Keep coming out to the games and supporting the team,” said wide receiver Robert Byrd.
With the win, the Rams improve to 3-0 on the season with a 2-0 record in Mountain East Conference play. The next game is Sept. 28 against West Virginia Wesleyan.