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Shepherd drops two straight

September 21, 2008|By JOHN O'BRIEN

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- Tyler Lazear might have finished one touchdown pass short of a record, but all the Shepherd University quarterback will remember is finishing one shy of a win.

Lazear threw for 315 yards and four touchdowns Saturday, but the Rams blew a 21-point lead and fell 46-42 to visiting Fairmont State as quarterback Vick Bradford hooked up with Perry Baker for four touchdowns to fuel the comeback.

Lazear and the Rams had chances to in the final two minutes to reclaim the lead but failed. It's the first time Shepherd has lost consecutive home games since 1994.

"It's tough. It's pretty demoralizing," said Lazear, a senior. "We have to go back to the drawing board and find out what's wrong.

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"When the offense plays well, the defense doesn't, and when the defense does, the offense doesn't. We need to find out how to get a complete game out of this team."

Trailing by four, Lazear led the Rams (2-2) to the Falcons' 24-yard line with 90 seconds left, but he threw a wobbler that was intended for an open Craig Tremel on third down. The ball was well short and intercepted by Matt Vujaklya at the 15-yard line.

Lazear was hit as he released the ball, and said that "might have been" the cause.

"It came out of my hand wrong," he added. "As soon as it came out of my hand, I knew it was going to be an interception."

Three straight runs followed by timeouts resulted in a Fairmont punt, and the Rams began their final drive on Fairmont's 49 with a minute left.

Lazear scrambled for four and threw incomplete before hitting Nikkolai Norrell for a 12-yard gain with 30 seconds left. Tremel caught a nine-yarder but was stopped in the middle of the field, and Lazear spiked the ball with 11 seconds left.

From the 24, Lazear twice had balls batted in the end zone to end the game. Charles Butler swatted away the final pass, intended for Tremel.

"If you look at the scoreboard, we made some vast improvements offensively (from last week's 21-14 loss to Glenville State)," Shepherd coach Monte Cater said. "Nowhere in my wildest dreams did I think we would give up 46 points, but we did.

"It couldn't have come at a worse time."

The timing was fine between Bradford and Baker all day. Baker caught 11 of Bradford's passes, racking up 202 yards. Bradford threw for 238.

Down 21-0 in the first quarter, Perry took a screen pass 64 yards to put Fairmont in the end zone with 1:47 remaining.

After Shepherd's Jimmy Sutch responded with a 3-yard touchdown run with 14:27 left in the first half, Baker recovered the fumble of teammate Travis Hawthorne and ran it a few yards into the end zone with 1:56 left.

Cody Reed, who played last year for Berkeley Springs, ripped off a 27-yard touchdown run with 3:59 left to close the lead to 28-21. He rushed for 92 yards on 14 carries.

Lazear found Nasser Muhammad for a 38-yard touchdown just before halftime to make it 35-21 at the break.

Shepherd's Michael Johnson made it 42-21 with 11:46 left in the third on a 1-yard touchdown run, but that would be the final score for the Rams.

Baker turned another screen into a touchdown, scoring from six yards out two minutes later, and Alex Ashley kicked a 19-yard field goal that closed the lead to 42-31 with 3:31 left.

Baker caught a 9-yard touchdown with 10:54 left in the game, then put the Falcons ahead on a third-down lob that he snatched out of the air for a 26-yard touchdown with 3:42 left, setting up Shepherd's final two unsuccessful drives.

In the second half, Lazear passed for only 71 yards as the Falcons used an extra safety to take away any big plays. Lazear had thrown touchdown passes of 2, 19 and 27 in addition to the 38-yarder in the first half, and completed 25 of 37 passes overall.

Muhammad caught six balls for 86 yards, Ryan Lavin caught five for 55 and a touchdown, Tremel caught four for 79 and a touchdown and Norrell caught four for 49. Sutch had a 3-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.

Shepherd's running game sputtered for a third straight week, failing to reach the 100-yard mark as a team. Sutch had only 32 yards on 18 carries.

Omoniyi Bakare ran for 108 yards on 24 carries for Fairmont, which averaged 6.6 yards per play.

"We couldn't get a stop," Cater said. "It's been a while since we haven't been able to get stops.

"We needed to keep scoring, but we were not able to do it."

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