The Shepherd Rams football team, which is ranked #9, improved to a 7-0 record with a nail-biting 35-28 victory over the Concord Mountain Lions, who beat the Rams last season.
The game took all 60 minutes to crown a victor, and the win undoubtedly gave Shepherd the momentum they need heading into the final three weeks of conference play.
The Rams fell into an early 7-0 score with just under 10 minutes left in the first quarter when quarterback Brian Novack found TJ Smith from 27 yards out. With the ensuing drive, the Rams marched 86 yards down the field and tied the game with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Ziemba to Dalton Boyd, making the score 7-7 with 5 minutes left in the quarter.
The Rams struck first in the second quarter when Ryan Earles made his first of three field goals, giving the team a 10-7 lead. On the next Mountain Lion possession, Novack found Smith again to gain the lead at 14-10 with 7:30 left in the quarter. Earles’s second field goal of the game came with 1:29 left in the quarter, bringing the score to 14-13 going into halftime.
The second half was a shootout to the finish with each team combining for six scores and four lead changes.
The Mountain Lions struck first in the third quarter when Calvinaugh Jones broke free for a 52-yard touchdown, giving a 21-13 lead with 13 minutes left in the quarter. The score remained 21-13 until 4:44 remained on the clock. Jabre Lolley found the end-zone from 4 yards out for his first of three scores during the game, bringing the score to 21-19.
Lolley again found the end-zone from a yard out in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter to give the Rams a 25-21 lead. Concord’s next drive swung the score back in their favor when Novack found Tiko Henderson from 17 yards out to give the Mountain Lions a 28-25 lead with 8:46 left to play. A third field goal from Earles tied the game at 28 with five minutes remaining.
After a big stop from the Rams defense on a 4 and 1, Shepherd got the ball back with great field position and time for a game winning drive. The Rams drove 42 yards in a minute and three seconds, and capped the drive off with a touchdown from Lolley three yards out with only 41 seconds to play, giving the Rams their seventh straight victory and a great feeling of redemption.
Quarter back Jeff Ziemba added to his MVP caliber season, finishing 21-30 for 374 yards and a touchdown.
Ziemba’s favorite target for the day was Billy Brown, who finished with 10 receptions for 185 yards.
The dual threat backfield of Allen Cross and Jabre Lolley combined for 70 yards with Lolley rushing for three touchdowns, giving him 10 for the season.
The rams were led defensively by James Gupton and Keon Robinson, who each had 10-plus tackles during the game. Shaneil Jenkins added two sacks, giving him a team leading seven for the season.
The Rams look to improve to 8-0 next Saturday, Oct. 31, at 12 p.m. when West Liberty University comes to town.