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Shepherd hangs on

September 30, 2000

Shepherd hangs on



By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer


SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Somewhere around the middle of the fourth quarter, Shepherd College's opponent and priorities changed.

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The Rams went from trying to beat Concord to trying to beat the clock. They barely succeeded on both fronts.

Shepherd went from playing well defensively to just playing defensively in the course of the final 10 minutes of play to squeak out a 24-22 victory over the Mountain Lions on Saturday at the new Rams Stadium.

"I'm disappointed," Shepherd coach Monte Cater said. "A win is a win and that's what they count, but we have got to get better across the board. We are not a consistent football team right now."

The Rams (3-1, 1-0) became defenseless while beginning their defense of the West Virginia Conference title they have owned for the last three years. Shepherd played an impressive first half and played Concord to a standstill in the third quarter before taking a 24-3 lead.

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Then, the Mountain Lions roared back with 19 unanswered points in the final 9 minutes, 26 seconds of the game, moving the ball with relative ease unlike they were able to in the first half.

The only thing that saved Shepherd from embarrassment was a blocked extra point followed by a well-defensed two-point conversion. Concord scored on a Trevor Hull's 35-yard pass to Tony Clackler with two seconds remaining.

Luckily, the clock ran out before Shepherd's lead. It seemed like the Rams' motivation was a close second to the clock.

"We settled down in the second half," said Shepherd defensive back James Rooths, who had a characteristically inconsistent day himself. "We made a lot of big plays in the first half, but then some guys didn't stick to their assignments in the second half. I think in the second half, some guys thought we were winning so they could slack off."

Rooths had two interceptions to kill Concord drives and sneaked in on offense to catch at 29-yard touchdown pass to give the Rams a 17-0 lead late in the first half. He also helped keep the Mountain Lions alive, though, fumbling twice on kick returns.

Shepherd's make-shift defense, shuffled by injuries, dominated Concord in the first half. The Mountain Lions managed only one first down until the final drive before halftime. It resulted in a 36-yard field goal by Lee Greene with :01 remaining to cut the deficit to 17-3.

Concord (2-3, 0-1) held Shepherd's running game in check, holding Shepherd's Dalevon Smith - the leading rusher in Division II - to just 91 yards for the game, 100 less than his average. But Mountain Lions miscues allowed Shepherd to get a 25-yard field goal by Kevin Burkey and a 7-yard run by Smith to go with Rooth's surprise score.

Shepherd battled Concord to a scoreless standoff in the third quarter and looked to put the finishing touches on the game when quarterback Joel Gordon hit Shane Snyder in the left corner of the end zone for a 21-yard scoring pass and a 28-3 lead with 9:26 remaining.

"We didn't play well offensively in the first half," Concord coach Ollie Pottmyer said. "We thought we could run and throw against them, but we didn't read things well and didn't execute in the first half. Our kids just wanted to keep playing. That's what's going to make us a winning program down the line."

The game was far from over as Hull hit for 258 of his 343 yards passing in that final stretch to give the Lions and chance and the Rams a lump in their collective throats.

Hull hit Clackler on a 24-yard score with 7:35 remaining, but Chanse Twyman blocked Greene's kick to make it 24-9. Four minutes later, Kenny Stallings caught a 15-yard touchdown to bring the Lions closer, but Freddie Delvillar batted down the conversion pass to keep Shepherd ahead by nine points.

It was just enough to withstand Clackler's final TD catch with two seconds remaining.

"We played well defensively in the first half," Cater said. "We got conservative on offense. We didn't get anything going consistent enough to stay on the field. We didn't run the ball the way we wanted to either. We have to get better."

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