Team closes season with commanding win over Fairmont
SHEPHERDSTOWN — After 13 conference championships in Coach Monte Cater’s 26 years at Shepherd, the Rams could say “Crown Me!” one final time after sealing this season’s title with a rousing 49-23 win over Fairmont.
In moving past the Fighting Falcons, the Rams had accomplished a number of things in the 2012 season, the last one for the dissolving WVIAC which will cease to exist after the current school term is completed next spring.
Shepherd had an 8-2 overall regular season record. It showed a 7-1 mark in the league. And the WVIAC championship and a sixth-place standing in the final NCAA Division II Super Region One rankings pushed the Rams into the national playoffs.
Those national playoffs begin for Shepherd this Saturday
at 12-noon at Indiana of Pennsylvania (IUP), a Crimson Hawk team that crushed previously unbeaten Shippensburg, 41-10, last weekend to claim the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship and leave them with a 10-1 overall record to take to the postseason.
Shepherd picked the right afternoon to finally showcase its offensive line.
On an unseasonably mild November afternoon, before a crowd announced at 4,238 that was ready to loudly send the Rams off to the playoffs with the WVIAC title in hand, Shepherd’s offensive line provided quarterback Bobby Cooper with such generous time to throw that the senior thanked them with a record-setting performance that included 430 air yards, three touchdown passes, a 27-for-38 completion performance, and connecting on 12 of his first 14 attempts.
The Rams even rushed for 178 yards . . . giving them a prosperous 608 yards of total offense.
When threatened by a 16-14 Fairmont lead close to the end of the first half, the Rams scored twice in the span of only 10 plays to quickly change the game’s direction toward what would later become their 2012 throne room.
Leading 28-16 at the half, the Rams left Fairmont squirming in their wake by scoring the first 21 points of the second half to grab a 49-16 lead.
After trailing by two points, the Rams scored the next five touchdowns to give some credence to any championship celebration plans that might have been in the works.
With copious time to survey the Fairmont defensive secondary, Cooper repeatedly found Larry Lowe (seven catches for 117 yards) and the highly reliable Billy Brown (seven catches for 113 yards and one score).
Reserve wide receivers Trevor Turner and Dalton Boyd combined for five receptions, 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Shepherd had 16 successful pass plays that carried for 10 yards or more. Five of those completions were for at least 30 yards.
Once the Rams had been stung enough to trail by two points, the defense made it clear a loss was not going to be tolerated.
David Carter made an interception on a deflected Bobby Vega pass. DJ Scott contributed an interception. Vega lost a fumble when throttled by A.J. Parrish. Scott already had an earlier interception.
Shepherd’s starting defense had 16 points scored against it, not much bending there. And the total compliment of defensive starters/reserves permitted a minus 11 yards rushing in 16 Fairmont rushing attempts. No bending there.
The title-clinching afternoon had been mild in nature. The four new members of the athletic Hall of Fame had been introduced. Conference championship teams from 1972, 1982, and 1992 had been hailed as they appeared in the south end zone.
And another WVIAC championship could be celebrated in the venerable league’s last season.
“Crown Me!” was Shepherd’s last loud salute to the WVIAC.