By A.J. Proger, Sports Editor
Over the past couple of years, fans of the West Liberty Football program have seen many outstanding performances.
A double overtime victory over the Charleston Golden Eagles and a wild 84-63 second round playoff victory against Edinboro are just two games that quickly pop into the minds of black and gold supporters.
However, it was the exact opposite end of the spectrum on Saturday afternoon at Russek Field.
With the Hilltoppers up 35-13 early in the second quarter, nobody could have envisioned the implosion that was about to come their way.
Twenty-five Shepherd special teams points in a three-minute span turned the game from a 35-20 advantage to a 45-35 disadvantage for the hosts, and Shepherd went on to score with less than a minute to go to claim a 53-35 victory.
Monte Cater’s team jumped out to the early 7-0 lead on a Nate Hoyte 11-yard rush into the endzone.
Eric Dobratz made good on the extra point attempt.
West Liberty answered the bell on the very next possession, as Zach Amedro ran 10 yards on a quarterback keeper.
Mike Blewett made it a 7-7 ballgame with his extra point.
After a rare Rams’ three and out, the Toppers got the ball back.
Amedro found David Carter on a two-yard pass for a 14-7 lead with Blewett’ s PAT.
Shepherd turned their next possession over on downs after Kevin Clancy’ s pass fell just short of receiver Robert Byrd.
It took the Toppers just five plays before Amedro found Ryan Travis for a 14-yard touchdown completion.
Blewett made it 21-7 in favor of the hosts.
Keon Robinson fumbled the Shepherd kick-off return, which was recovered by Chris Pitsenberger at the Rams’ 41.
The Toppers made the Rams pay as Amedro hooked up with Travis for the second time from seven yards away, which gave West Liberty a 28-7 advantage.
The Rams drove down the field on their next possession, with Clancy finding Dom Jones from one yard out for a 28-13 deficit.
That was the score at the halftime break.
West Liberty took the opening possession of the third quarter 82 yards on 12 plays with Amedro finding Travis from 24 yards away and a 35-13 Toppers advantage.
It would take the Rams just three plays for Clancy to find Jones for the second time in the game.
Dobratz cut the West Lib lead to 15 at 35-20.
Two Topper possessions later, Blewett punted on fourth and 19 to Shepherd’ s
Deante Steele, who returned it 52 yards for the touchdown to make it 35-27, and that is when the reality horror show spanning 3:03 minutes of playing time began.
Three plays into West Liberty’ s next drive Keon Robinson intercepted an Amedro pass and returned it 88 yards to paydirt.
Bobby Humphries caught Kevin Clancy’ s two-point conversion pass to tie the score at 35-35.
On the first play of the Toppers’ next drive, DeVaughn Gordon fumbled the football that was recovered by a host of Rams.
Eric Dobratz kicked a 24-yard field goal which made it a 38-35 Shepherd lead.
It only took the hosts one play on their next possession to lose the football again as Corey Washington scooped up a pass that was complete to Brandon Carver and returned it 27 yards to put the Rams up by 10 at 45-35.
The Toppers finally stopped the bleeding when Blewett kicked a 27-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 45-38.
The Rams finished up the scoring when Tommy Addison ran in from 44 yards away and John Frick picked up a blocked extra point attempt and ran it into the endzone for a two-point conversion.
Amedro passed for 487 yards on the day to bring his total career passing yards to
13,423, leaving him 927 yards short of Jimmy Terwilliger’ s all-time D-II mark
with three games remaining.
He needs to average 309 yards per game the rest of the way to give himself the record.
With the win, Shepherd clinched the 2010 WVIAC Football title.
In other games around the conference, Charleston beat Urbana (Ohio) 44-34.
Fairmont State defeated West Virginia Wesleyan 45-14.
Glenville State downed West Virginia State 42-27, and Concord handled Seton Hill 28-17.
Other action this week includes Shepherd at West Virginia State, Glenville State at West Virginia Wesleyan, Concord at UNC Pembroke, and Seton Hill at Fairmont State.