As the freezing rain fell from the sky and clock wound down to zero, the Shepherd Rams found themselves victorious 48-31 in the first round of the division II playoffs against the Assumption University Greyhounds.
The Rams had an early spark in the opening round game on Saturday, Nov. 19, when CJ Davis returned the opening kickoff to the Greyhounds seven yard line, setting up a seven-yard run from Jeff Ziemba the very next play, putting the Rams up 7-0 just 10 seconds into the game. After an Assumption three and out the Rams took just 1:50 to find the end zone again, this time Ziemba finding Billy Brown from 10 yards out.
The Greyhounds would take the ensuing kickoff 97 for their first score of the game, making the score 14-7. An interception by Ziemba on the Rams following drive left Assumption with good field position, but the tough Rams defense was able to hold the Greyhounds to just a field goal making the score 14-10.
The Rams would add one more touchdown before the quarter’s end when Deonte Glover punched it in from three yards out stretching Shepherd lead to 21-10. With a combined 31 points during the first 15 minutes of play, those in the stands were preparing for a high scoring affair in round one.
After a high scoring first quarter the Rams and Greyhounds each found the end zone once in the second quarter. A 37-yard touchdown run by Assumptions Marc Monks tightened the Shepherds lead to just 5 at 21-16 after a blocked extra point. Ziemba and Brown would hook up for the second time on the day putting Shepherd up 28-16 at the halfway mark.
Shepherd used just 10 seconds on their first drive of the second half to find the end zone. Zeimba found Davis who out ran a mob of Greyhound defenders for a 67-yard score extending the Rams lead to 34-16 after a missed extra point. The Greyhounds would put the next 9 points on the scoreboard, but a three-yard touchdown run by Brandon Hlavach kept the Rams lead at a comfortable 41-25 lead with just one quarter remaining.
A 57-yard catch and run by Assumption put them a two-point conversion away from making it a one score game with 10 minutes remaining, but a great deflection in the end zone kept the Rams ahead by 10. A third touchdown from Ziemba to Brown would seal the victory for Shepherd putting them up 48-31.
Ziemba led the Rams offense going 19-30 for 317 yards and four touchdowns. Brown had an equally impressive game catching over half of Ziemba’s passes and tallying 193 yards and three scores.
Octavius Thomas seemed to be everywhere for the Rams on defense finishing the day with nine tackles including two for a loss.
Shepherd will travel to Long Island, New York, Saturday, Nov. 26, to take on the second seeded LIU Post University that was victorious over Winston Salem State 48-41. Kickoff will be at noon