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Rams rediscover joy of football in lopsided win

October 12, 2008|By Bob Parasiliti

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The Shepherd University football team was able to dust off a few words that had been edited out of its usual vocabulary this season.

There was "focus" and "control" and "complete" and "confidence" in everything the Rams did on Saturday.

There also was the return of one favorite term - "Fun."

Shepherd had a lot of it on Saturday as the Rams focused on the task at hand, had control of both offense and defense, played a complete game in all phases and regained its confidence during a rousing 55-7 victory over Concord at Ram Stadium to break an almost-unheard-of four-game losing streak.

"All phases of the game played well for us and we were able to use a lot of people today," Shepherd coach Monte Cater said. "When you can do that, it's fun. We haven't had much fun around here for the last month."

Football had become tedious on the shore of the Potomac River. The Rams entered Saturday having lost four straight West Virginia Conference games for the first time since 1974. The battle between Shepherd and Concord - which had been the league powers through the 1980s - had become a battle to see which team would avoid becoming the last place team in the conference.

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Shepherd (3-4, 1-4) responded well.

Tailback Jimmy Sutch - a St. James graduate - ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns for his best outing since the season opener at Shippensburg. Deante Steele intercepted two passes and returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. Shepherd's defense held the Mountain Lions (0-7, 0-5) to 141 yards of offense and scoreless for the last 55:18 to regain some of its missing magic.

"The way things were going, we hoped things would go this way," said Cater. "Maybe not with 55 points, but it was great to see. It was great to see so many players contribute."

Things began getting giddy for the Rams right from the first play.

It was simple. Quarterback Tyler Lazear took the snap and pitched it to Sutch, who swept to the right. The line blocked and there wasn't a Mountain Lion in sight as Sutch went for 21 yards to the Concord 47.

Two plays later, Lazear hit Nasser Muhammad at the 20 and he ran to paydirt to finish off a 43-yard touchdown pass and a quick 7-0 lead.

"The running game had been struggling," said Sutch, who scored on runs of 2, 15 and 4 yards. "The coaches made some changes. I think everyone went out and did their job and focused on what we wanted to do. Sometimes, you try to do too much and that can hurt you."

It was simple Shepherd football done well. The Rams rolled up 497 yards of offense, including 271 on the ground. They had 313 yards in the first half - 172 rushing - to build a 38-7 halftime lead. Meanwhile, the defense held Concord to nine first downs.

"We hoped to get a good start," Cater said. "We tried to get something established early. I was happy with the start and the defense played well. We were pleased to have a little success."

The success steamrolled.

Michael Johnson pushed in from the 4 to put Shepherd up 14-0 with 9:02 left in the first half. Eric Dobratz, who hit his first two field goals of the season, hit his second of seven extra points.

Concord gave the illusion that it was in the game with a 10-play, 68-yard drive, culminated by Thomas Frazier's 15-yard scoring pass to Chris Carter, to move within 14-7.

The illusion disappeared quickly. Steele, the reigning D2football.com special teams player of the week, took the ensuing kickoff virtually untouched for the 21-7 lead.

Dobratz hit a 26-yard field goal and Sutch scored his first two touchdowns to give the Rams their 31-point halftime lead.

Shepherd put it away in the second half with Dobratz's second 26-yard field goal, Sutch's second touchdown and a 30-yard TD run by Thomas Addison, the fifth running back the Rams used.

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