On a hot and humid Shepherdstown afternoon the Shepherd University Rams took the field against the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats in the first Mountain East showdown of this young 2016 season.
The stadium fell quiet for the better part of the first quarter, as the Bobcats chewed up the first 7 minutes of clock and cut through the Rams defense on their way to an opening drive touchdown taking a 7-0 lead, which would remain throughout the first quarter.
After a punt from the Bobcats on their first drive of the second quarter the Rams took over with great field position and the offense took full advantage. Senior quarterback Jeff Ziemba hit receiver Ryan Feiss for a 37-yard gain setting up tailback Deonte Glover for a 4-yard score putting Shepherd on the board for the first time in 2016.
The Bobcats, however, hit back with a spark of their own, blocking the extra point attempt and taking it back for 2 points of their own, putting Shepherd down 9-6 midway through the second. The Rams struck again on their next possession when running back Brandon Hlavach punched it in from a yard out giving their first lead heading into halftime with the score 13-9.
“We knew we had a good game plan, we just needed to stick to it,” said head coach Monte Cater after the victory.
The Rams came out of the locker room with the intensity Ram fans are accustomed too, breaking for big plays on offense and locking down the defensive side of the ball. Shepherd took a 20-9 when Ziemba hit Feiss for a 11-yard touchdown. A fumble by the Bobcats recovered by Myles Humphrey gave the Rams the extra boost of momentum needed scoring just three plays later extending the score to 27-9.
West Virginia Wesleyan added a field goal in the fourth quarter but the Rams defense kept the Bobcats on lockdown for the remainder of the game.
“We had a good game plan coming in, I knew we just had to execute,” Cater said.
The Rams biggest surprise of the day was redshirt sophomore receiver Ryan Feiss who finished the game with 10 receptions for 133 yards, coming into the season without a recorded reception in his career. Ziemba finished the day 21-28 with 315 yards and a pair of touchdown giving fans a performance they expect from the senior captain.
“Feiss has shown us a lot of good things so far at practice, so we knew we had to get him the ball as much as we could,” Cater said.
Chris Jones led the defensive side all the ball with 10 tackles.
The Rams will have a short practice week as they take on Charleston University under the lights Thursday Sept. 9, hoping to improve to 2-0 on the season