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Shepherd sinks Ship in opener

September 03, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — In his first career start, Shepherd University junior quarterback Bobby Cooper did not disappoint.

Cooper passed for 306 yards and three touchdowns while Tommy Addison ran for 125 yards and two more scores as No. 11 Shepherd torched Shippensburg for 601 yards of offense, scoring its seventh straight opening day victory, 53-27, over the Red Raiders in the 14th annual Great Valley Classic at Ram Stadium.

Cooper connected with receivers Nik Norrell, Larry Lowe and Justin Ford for touchdowns of 9, 71 and 25 yards, respectively, while completing 16 of 28 pass attempts before giving way to backup Trae Tinsman early in the fourth quarter.

“We just wanted to come in and do what we do,” the 6-foot-4 Cooper said. “We started off a little slow, but things really picked up in the second half and if we stay on course for a whole game, we don’t really think a team is going to stop us.”

Shepherd racked up 380 yards passing and 221 more on the ground — led by Addison’s 23-carry effort — which really helped to open up the air attack in the second half, Cooper said.

“Without (Addison), the safeties are backed up and the windows to throw in are smaller,” he said. “But once he starts breaking off those big runs, they have no choice but to come up and that’s when we hit them over the top for some big plays.”

Addison scored on runs of 2 and 8 yards in the Rams’ huge second half, but ran strong all game, picking up 5.4 yards per carry.

Holding a slim 14-13 at halftime, Shepherd built its advantage with four straight touchdowns to open the second half in a game that got out away quickly for Shippensburg.

Mike Frenette lost a fumble, Nate Schmidt shanked a punt and Zach Zulli was intercepted twice — the second a 39-yard return for a touchdown by Elijah Davis — to give the Rams great field position, and they capitalized with 26 points in the span of 3:21.

“We just let it get away from us in the third quarter with the interceptions, the shagged punt, the fumble — it all came four right in a row, and that’s hard to recover from with a good team like (Shepherd),” said first-year Shippensburg head coach Mark Maciejewski.

Norell led the Shepherd receiving corps with five catches for 100 yards, while Lowe finished with 96 yards on two catches and Ford grabbed four for 93.

Despite the two picks, Zulli connected on 17 of 30 pass attempts for 277 yards and four touchdowns as the Raiders debuted their new spread offensive look, a change from the Wing-T look they had used in the past under former coach Rocky Rees, who retired after last season.

Good thing because the Rams run defense was stout, only allowing 64 yards on 28 carries on the ground.

Zulli’s scoring passes went to Sheldon Mayer, Jacob Baskerville on a nice trick play involving a lateral by Mayer and Trevor Harman twice.

Michael Haynes scored on a 1-yard run for Shippensburg in the first quarter.

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