[cleeng_content id="976831064" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]BUCKHANNON — Early and often.
That’s the method Shepherd used to dispatch West Virginia Wesleyan, 45-10, at aged and sagging Cebe Ross Field in a Mountain East Conference game played before a small, sunsplashed gathering on Saturday afternoon.
The Rams opened what would become a game with 516 yards of their total offense by marching 66 yards in only seven plays and getting the first of Allen Cross’s three touchdowns.
Just four plays later, Philip Rhoden intercepted a wayward Bobcat pass, made a considerable runback, and had the Rams primed for another score.
In just six plays, Jabre Lolley squeezed into the much-sullied West Virginia Wesleyan end zone … and Shepherd was on top by 14 points. Before the first quarter ended, the Rams had seen three possessions and led, 17-0, because Ryan Earls had made a 20-yard field goal.
When Shepherd had its quick-start lead of 17 points, the Bobcats had one first down and 25 yards of total offense.
Three more Shepherd possessions in the second quarter yielded a bountiful two scores, and the Rams left for their dressing room in the Rockefeller Center at halftime with a 31-0 lead.
Cross had scored again and Trae Tinsman had hit Robert Byrd with a touchdown pass.
The struggling Bobcats and their rushless offense had 92 yards of total offense. Minus rushing yardage stained the Bobcats’ ledger as they had tried seven runs for a minus two yards.
On Shepherd’s first possession of the last half, Tinsman’s 54-yard TD throw to Cross burnished Shepherd’s ever-growing lead to 38-0. And Tinsman’s day was over because Jeff Ziemba replaced him for the remainder of the game.
For the last 22 minutes of the methodical Shepherd win, it was Ram substitutes doing the damage to the already bruised Bobcats.
The highlight of that half for Shepherd was the fourth quarter with its second-team offensive line. With all five interior linemen coming in as reserves, the Rams traveled 89 yards in 16 plays — chewing away nearly eight minutes of clock time — to score with about a half-minute remaining.
Only one Ziemba pass was attempted in that drive that ended with Jabre Lolley punching across from the two.
The Bobcats ended with eight rushing yards. They lost three turnovers. They yielded all that yardage to the Rams. Tinsman was 11-for-15. Ziemba was 7-for-8. The Shepherd quarterbacks combined for 287 passing yards that could be added to the 229 rushing yards the team amassed.
Shepherd was 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the Mountain East. The Bobcats were 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the league.
It’s Homecoming at Shepherd this weekend with Charleston providing the opposition. Charleston has won both its conference games and is 2-2 overall after losses to Shaw and the Salukis of Southern Illinois.
Cebe Ross Field and West Virginia Wesleyan and now in the past.
Shepherd had struck early … struck often.
And had remained unbeaten and nationally ranked through its September schedule.