WISE, Va. — The score was deceptive. Shepherd’s underwhelming offense wasn’t.
Even though the nationally ranked Rams drilled winless U.Va.-Wise, 42-17, they had only one touchdown from the offense.
But the defense and special teams filleted the Cavaliers with enough points to keep Shepherd unbeaten overall at 6-0 and in front of the Mountain East Conference pack with a 5-0 league record. The Rams are the only unbeaten team in conference games after Urbana slugged Concord on Saturday.
Shepherd scored two points with a safety.
There were 12 points from the four field goals provided by specialist Ryan Earls.
Six points came on an 80-yard punt return by C.J. Harris.
Two pass interceptions of Cavaliers’ passes were returned for two more scores.
And the Shepherd offense scored on an Allen Cross run.
The score was once only 25-17 before the Rams scored the game’s last 17 points courtesy of Earls, Phillip Rhoden’s interception-return, and Cross’s 21-yard run.
One of Wise’s touchdowns came on an interception return of a Jeff Ziemba pass. The other was a short pass of six yards.
One of the inglorious areas coming from the game was that the Rams could not score touchdowns on several occasions where they had progressed to first-and-goal situations.
However, Wise could do little or nothing when attempting to run against the Shepherd front. On 13 rushing attempts, the Cavaliers were muffled with a minus 35-yard showing. Shepherd defenders stole four of the 52 passes the Cavaliers threw and got two sacks from Robert Hayes.
Cross had 137 yards with his 22 carries, but Jabre Lolley was limited to just 12 yards on 12 tries. Quarterbacks Trae Tinsman and Ziemba were sacked a combined five times.
As it has in five of its six games this season, Shepherd was heavily penalized with nearly all of its 11 infractions being the 10- and 15-yard variety. The officials walked off 115 yards in penalties against the Rams.
Corey Washington and Rhoden had Shepherd’s interception-return scores and the two-point safety came when UVa.-Wise recovered its own fumble in its end zone.
Shepherd was still unbeaten. But the Rams had impressed few in staying that way against the Cavaliers in the game played some seven hours away from Shepherdstown in far southwestern Virginia.