Rams’ special teams’ special deliveries help beat ‘Jackets

When it was early and Shepherd trailed American International, it was a fumble recovery by its special teams on a muffed punt by the Yellow Jackets that provided the Rams’ first points.

On the first play after the game resumed following a driving rain storm, another Shepherd special team blocked a short field goal, keeping the score tied.

Later, Corey Washington blocked a punt that was turned into a quick touchdown.

In the fourth quarter, the Rams blocked another field goal.

And with its defense giving the Rams fortunate field position with Washington’s interception return and another fumble recovery after Yellow Jacket quarterback Kevin Arduino had his arm whacked while trying to pass, Shepherd had all its points in a 34-7 win in its first home game of the 2012 season at Ram Stadium.

Special teams and defense.

Lightning and pelting rain.

And a crucial blocked field on the first play following the unsettling thunder storm that drove nearly everybody to shelter in rest rooms, Sara Cree Hall, the press boxes, the Rams Den, and the Kenneth Boone locker rooms.

American International was playing its first game. After taking a quick-strike seven-point lead on the same sort of pass pattern that had been used successfully against the Rams the week before by Shippensburg, the Yellow Jackets were stung themselves by four turnovers and the three blocks the Shepherd special teams continually provided. Shepherd had no turnovers.

Shepherd wide receiver Bobby Brown catches a 16-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Cooper in the Rams’ 34-7 win over American International.

So devastating had Shepherd’s special teams been, that the Rams had a 28-7 team by the half. At the half, American International had four more first downs than did the Rams. There had been 34 yards rushing and 124 yards passing on Shepherd’s side. In addition to its mostly stagnate offense, the Rams had already been penalized six times of the even dozen infractions that would be walked off against them.

Yet, Shepherd sat atop a 28-7 lead.

When the special teams weren’t delivering field position or blocks against American International’s kicking game, the Shepherd defense was quick to provide an interception and fumble recovery close to the Yellow Jacket end zone.

Much of the second half was played under leaden skies that dumped more rain on the huddled crowd and the getting-soaked teams. Shepherd didn’t allow any more points, recovering another fumble and limiting the Massachusetts-based visitors to only seven first downs.

Robert Hayes had blocked a field goal. Dominique Dixon had caused Arduino’s early fumble. Washington intercepted Arduino just before Shepherd’s third score. And Washington blocked a punt just before Shepherd’s fourth score.

Dom Tolson recovered a fumble when the Yellow Jackets made a third-quarter threat. And the final special teams contribution came when another field goal was snuffed in the second half.

All in all, it was a Shepherd win made by special delivery by the special teams and the defense.

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