No. 3 Shepherd Pulls Away From West Liberty
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Unbeaten and No. 3-ranked Shepherd lived up to its billing here Saturday afternoon, pulling away in the second half to a 51-14 victory against West Liberty on Homecoming at Ram Stadium.
Coach Roger Waialae’s Hilltoppers (2-4, 2-4) traded punches with the nationally-ranked Rams (5-0, 5-0) for much of the first half but couldn’t sustain any momentum after intermission as the hosts turned up the defensive heat.
Shepherd took the opening kickoff and marched 62 yards on seven plays with quarterback Connor Jessop’s 9-yard strike to wide receiver Wanya Allen putting the hosts on top, 7-0, at 11:45 of the opening quarter.
West Liberty answered with an impressive drive of its own, rolling 78 yards in seven plays to come up with the equalizer. Junior quarterback Brenton Colabella hit senior wide receiver Teddy Mayo on a perfectly-thrown 12-yard slant route to knot the score at 7-7 with 8:54 on the first quarter clock.
The Rams — who came into the afternoon ranked among the nation’s offensive leaders at better than 50 points a game — made a bid to put the game on ice before halftime with three unanswered touchdowns.
Senior tailback Jabre Lolley closed out the first quarter with a 10-yard TD run with Jessop throwing two more touchdown passes in the second quarter for a 28-7 Shepherd lead with less than three minutes left in the opening half.
The Hilltoppers weren’t finished yet as junior quarterback Lukas O’Connor came off the bench to run a well-executed 2-minute offense. O’Connor’s 9-yard scoring strike to freshman wide receiver Isaiah Robinson with just 55 seconds left in the half closed the gap to 28-14 and gave the visitors some momentum heading into the locker room.
The Shepherd defense had other ideas, however, coming up with two turnovers and a 3-and-out on WLU’s first three possessions of the third quarter. Jessop and the Ram offense capitalized with a pair of touchdowns to take a 42-14 lead into the fourth quarter and the game was gone.
Jessop, a transfer from Virginia Tech, had another huge game for the hosts. The senior standout completed 23-of-30 passes for 329 yards and 4 TDs with no interceptions. Lolley and fellow tailback Patrick Griffin ran for a combined 183 yards on 26 carries as Shepherd racked up 561 yards of total offense on the afternoon.
Ortiz ran for 82 yards on 21 carries and added 41 more yards on a pair of pass receptions to pace the Hilltoppers, who were held under 100 yards of total offense in the second half. Three WLU quarterbacks combined to complete 13-of-23 passes for 169 yards with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. Mayo caught 2 passes for 42 yards while Osman Kargbo had a team-high 4 grabs for 39 yards.
Junior punter Christian Morris provided a special teams highlight in the first half when he tied a 40-year-old school record with a 79-yard punt. Kevin Wilson had a 79-yard punt in a 17-6 loss to Shepherd on Oct. 15, 1977 at Russek Field.
West Liberty returns home to host Glenville State in the Hilltoppers’ annual Homecoming Game on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at West Family Stadium.
CASE WESTERN RESERVE 33
CLEVELAND– The Bison offense was limited to 159 yards of total offense in their loss at Case Western Reserve Saturday afternoon in a Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) contest.
Bethany junior linebacker Will Gatling posted a game-high 12 tackles (seven solo) and recovered a fumble to lead the Bison defense. Junior Joseph Fiasco (Wimerding, Pa./Penn-Trafford) added 10 tackles, a half-sack and a pass break-up, while sophomore Kiandre Murphy established a season-high with nine tackles.
Offensively, the Bison were without senior quarterback Chase Kinemond due to injury and turned to sophomore Carlin Bason, who was making his first-career start. Bason finished the day 6-of-16 for 61 yards passing (zero interceptions) and added a team-high 86 yards rushing on 20 carries.
After Bethany failed to convert a third down, senior kicker Chris Ray came on and converted a 27-yard attempt to make the score 17-3 with just over seven minutes until halftime. The field goal ties Ray for second all-time in school history with Jack Fayak (1984-86) with 14 made field goal attempts.
Case Western Reserve out-gained Bethany 463-to-159 and threw for 349 yards. Spartan quarterback Rob Cuda ended the day 19-for-34 with 299 yards passing and three touchdowns.