Shepherd Rams pull off dramatic win over Notre Dame (OH), advance to NCAA DII Quarterfinals


SHEPHERDSTOWN, W. Va. (WDVM) – With 1.9 seconds left in regulation, junior quarterback Tyson Bagent found grad student wide receiver, Josh Gontarek, in the endzone for the game-winning score, lifting the Shepherd Rams over the Notre Dame College Falcons, 38-34.

“We weren’t expecting them to line up the defense they did.” said Bagent, as he described his perspective on the play that led to the game-winning touchdown. “They ended up bringing four d-lineman, so I knew I wasn’t going to have enough time to sit there, and try to hit the deep shot like we wanted. So as soon as I could wiggle myself out of the pocket, I rolled to the right, and I saw him [Josh Gontarek] streaking to the opposite sideline. And that’s when I just let it go, I didn’t want to hold it too long, just in case it didn’t work out and we ran out of time on the clock.”

“I’m pretty sure they were playing man, if not something close to it.” said Gontarek, “The play was just designed – I was kind of the last option. I saw Tyson [Bagent] roll out, so scrambled through and just kept going. Can’t stop. That just shows you can’t ever quit.”

With 1:07 left in the first half, the Shepherd Rams extended their lead 21-7, as Bagent found Gontarek on a nine-yard scoring pass.

“We talk about wanting to win the imiddle eight, the last part of the second quarter, and the first part of the third quarter.” said Head Coach Ernie McCook, “They were able to put a drive together to score going into halftime. Then we had a turnover there, I believe it was, and then they were able to capitalize on that.”

Notre Dame’s Chris Brimm would put together a five play, 83 yard drive with a little over two seconds left on the clock, that gave the Falcons a fighting chance, heading into halftime with a 21-14 deficit.

Coming off their break, the Rams turn it over, as Bagent threw an interception to Bryce Sheppert, who returned it for 21 yards. That set up Notre Dame’s next score, a 40 yard pass to Davis Patterson from Chris Brimm that tied up the game at 21.

“That had our backs against the wall, but I want to say it was a tremendous amount of grit by the team.” said McCook, “The coaches continued to battle, but we know when you have a chance to play playoff football, that you’re going to have to play for four quarters.”

The Rams will travel to No. 1 Kutztown for a rematch in the NCAA DII Football Quarterfinals. Shepherd lost their first home game of the season to Kutztown, 37-29, their first, and only loss of the season so far.

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