Hilltoppers fall against nationally ranked Shepherd

By Cody Shook, Sports Editor

West Liberty University took on Shepherd University today at West Family Stadium and the Rams came away with a 38-27 victory. The Hilltoppers came into the game on a two game losing streak and with this loss they move to 3-6 on the season, making that losing streak three in a row. 

Shepherd is now 8-0 on the season and they have won 21 of their last 22 and that’s why they currently hold the #3 spot in the national rankings.

Shepherd received the opening kick-off and didn’t waste any time marching down the field on a three play, 75 yard drive that only last one minute and 17 seconds but resulted in a touchdown. The touchdown was a 22-yard pass from quarterback Jeff Ziemba to wide receiver Billy Brown to put the Rams up 7-0.

Billy Brown leads all active NCAA Division II players with 3,332 career receiving yards and he added another 108 to that total today on the Hilltop.

Five minutes later, the Hilltoppers got their first score of the game by a 35-yard field goal by Christian Morris.

After the kick-off by Christian Morris, the Rams ran the ball on their first play and the ball was fumbled by running back Deonte Glover and was recovered by the Hilltoppers deep in Shepherd territory. Less than a minute after the fumble, quarterback Dakota Conwell found wide receiver Dan Monteroso in the back of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown to put West Liberty up 10-7.

The eventful first quarter continued on the next drive that lasted four minutes and six seconds. It was capped off by a three yard touchdown run by Jeff Ziemba to put Shepherd up 14-10 after the made extra point attempt by kicker Zach Wise.

The next score came with 59 seconds left in the first half as running back Jeremiah Ortiz punched it in for a touchdown on a hard fought six yard run. The extra point attempt by Christian Morris was missed but the Hilltoppers were still up 16-14.

The Shepherd Rams then moved down the field quickly with less than a minute remaining. They were able to split the uprights with a 39-yard field goal by Zach Wise as time expired to give Shepherd the momentum and the lead going into halftime, up 17-16.

West Liberty got the football to start the second half but were unable to make anything of it on their first drive. The first score in the second half came from West Liberty as kicker Christian Morris made a 21-yard field goal to go back on top 19-17 with a little over five minutes left in the third quarter.

Billy Brown found the end zone again for the Rams as he caught a four yard pass from Jeff Ziemba. With the extra point field goal made by Zach Wise, the Rams were back on top and this time it was by five.

Shepard2The Hilltopper defense was unable to stop Shepherd on their next drive and Jeff Ziemba got in the endzone on a quarterback keeper for a yard out. The Hilltoppers faced the largest deficit of the day with just under 13 minutes left in the game.

After a four minute 53 second drive, Dan Monteroso caught a touchdown pass from four yards out thrown by Dakota Conwell. Then, on the two-point conversion attempt, the same combo connected to convert and bring the score within four points. The score with seven minutes and 53 seconds, the Hilltoppers were down 27-31 and they had the momentum.

Unfortunately, the Hilltoppers couldn’t stop the Rams offense and weren’t able to get anything going on offense in the final minutes. The Rams capped the game off by scoring a late touchdown from 19-yards out by running back Brandon Hlavach. Shepherd came away with the win in a hard fought battle at West Family Stadium on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

The Hilltoppers will be back in action this Thursday as they will travel to Glenville W.Va. to take on Glenville State University for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Please grab an issue of the Trumpet this week for a game preview and check out here on Trumpet Online next week after the game for a full game recap.