Last Great Valley Classic shows off Shepherd defense

[cleeng_content id="786078862" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]SHEPHERDSTOWN — Shepherd and Shippensburg won’t be playing each other again in any future regular season. Saturday’s 33-0 dismissal of the Red Raiders by the motivated Rams was the last of the series known as the Great Valley Classic.

The two schools will go their separate ways.

Shepherd, irritated by last year’s second half stumble against quarterback Zach Zulli and a better surrounding cast, separated itself from the Red Raiders long before Saturday’s final verdict had been rendered.

Shepherd’s Trae Tinsman completed 14 passes, two for touchdowns, in his first collegiate start as the Rams posted a 33-0 win in their opener.

Shepherd’s Trae Tinsman completed 14 passes, two for touchdowns,
in his first collegiate start as the Rams posted a 33-0 win in their
opener.

The Rams had been told that Shippensburg was the better conditioned team last year when the Red Raiders discarded a halftime deficit and wouldn’t allow the Rams any second-half points as they moved away to a smooth victory.

And so there was no love lost between the two teams.

Once it had secured another satisfying lead, the Shepherd players wanted to let the Red Raiders know there would be no faltering this time. In the second half alone, the Rams were penalized eight times for 100 yards. Five of those penalties were for either personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct and cost 15 yards each time.

Shepherd was ahead of the 7th-ranked team in the country. And it wanted the Red Raiders to know there would be no repeat performance of last year’s second half.

The Rams had dominated.

Thoroughly dominated.

Zulli was made to look as ordinary as drying red paint. Shepherd’s spirited defense hurried him. Dumped him three times. Sent him to the turf many times just after he had thrown. Chased him away from his protection. And left him with a clear impression of which team was the best.

Shepherd had twice intercepted Zulli and recovered four fumbles to count six turnovers it had gotten from the Red Raiders. There had been four sacks of quarterbacks Zulli and Chris Lawshe.

Shippensburg had a meager 32 rushing yards. And after averaging in the neighborhood of 400 passing yards a game in 2012, the Red Raiders had 185 with their 41 attempts this time.

The Rams so controlled the game that they had the football for 43 minutes and left Zulli and his mates to make do with 17 minutes of possession.

On its first play, Shippensburg tried a reverse that was played so well by the Rams that a fumble was forced that Shepherd recovered.

One offensive play. A fumble was lost. And things went downhill from there for the Pennsylvania visitors.

On its second possession, Shippensburg lost a diving interception to De’Ontre Johnson. When the shutout day was done, Shepherd had fumble recoveries from Dominique Dixon, David Gladden, Dontrewell Kelley and Octavius Thomas. It was Thomas who led Shepherd in tackles with seven. David Carter joined Johnson in getting interceptions.

After showing little ground offense to the Red Raiders in 2012, the Rams’ veteran staff of blockers helped runners Allen Cross (106 yards) and Jabre Lolley (95 yards) to substantial rushing days.

Trae Tinsman threw 23 times with 14 completions and touchdowns to Robert Byrd and Dalton Boyd.

Ryan Earls had two field goals, giving the Rams their first points with a 28-yarder.

Shippensburg, which averaged nearly 50 points a game last year, could not score.

Shepherd, which could not score in last season’s second half, had a 20-0 lead by intermission and then added another 13 points in a decidedly one-sided second half.

The Rams had the Great Valley Classic trophy. And they will keep it for a while until the series is started again.

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