Shepherd Falls to Concord in Thriller Game

Concord University dominates in special teams as they defeat the Shepherd Rams 29-20 in overtime. This was the first loss for the Rams at home since 2010 and the first win for Concord at Ram Stadium since 1984.

In a matchup of the two top teams in the Mountain East Conference, this game lived up to the hype and then some. No team led by more than one score the entire game, outside of the final play.

Additionally, Ram Stadium was filled and louder than ever. Attendance was listed at 5,563. To put that in perspective, the game with the second highest attendance came in the opener against Fairmont State, when 4,216 showed up. With each big play, the crowd grew louder and louder to cheer on their team.

The Rams struck first on the first play of the game when sophomore quarterback Jeff Ziemba threw a bomb to sophomore wide receiver Billy Brown on a 67-yard touchdown.

Much like in the loss to Notre Dame, the defense was victim of several big plays on the day. Mountain Lion quarterback T.J. Smith connected with Brian Novak for two huge touchdowns. The first touchdown came late in the first quarter and went for 71 yards, while the other touchdown came on the first drive of the second half, when they connected on a 55-yard strike. Concord would miss the extra point on the second touchdown to make the score 13-7.

Shepherd would answer back. After a shanked punt, that put the Rams on the 25-yard line, Jeff Ziemba found senior wide receiver William McKenzie in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. Shepherd would be penalized for a false start on the point-after kick, and would then have the PAT blocked to keep the score 13-13.

The very next play, Concord ran a trick play on the kick off. Tiko Henderson caught it and began to run when he had a player come from his left for an end around play. He faked the pitch to the player and fooled just about everyone at the stadium doing so. He went virtually untouched into the end zone to give the Mountain Lions the lead once again 20-13.

Just when all hope seemed lost, the Rams pulled through. With 2:10 remaining in the game and down by seven points, Shepherd was pinned in their own territory. Jeff Ziemba orchestrated a drive that went seven plays for 93 yards and capped it off with a 14-yard touchdown to Billy Brown to force the game into overtime.

In overtime, Concord kicker Andy Ellington would connect on a 43-yard field goal to put the Mountain Lions ahead. Shepherd would line up for a 24-yard field in their possession, but would have their kick blocked once again. Concord picked it up and ran it back for a touchdown; however the game had already been decided.

Jeff Ziemba ended up throwing for a career-high 310 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions while Billy Brown had nine receptions, 170 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

Shepherd will not make the postseason, as they finished outside the top six in Super Region One. They finish with an 8-2 record.

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