It was a duel to the very end. Tyson Bagent, who is widely considered the best quarterback in all of Div. II football, and Noah Grover went at it. In the end, it was Bagent and the Shepherd Rams who advanced to the quarterfinals against Indiana (Pa.).
“We had our chances, but their quarterback and running back were the difference in the game,” head coach Shawn Lutz said. “They were the reason they won that game and we didn’t.”
The Rock started with the ball, but they did not hold it for very long. That led to the Rams getting it back, and when they did, they showed they can also run the ball at a high level. Ronnie Brown capped off a six-play drive after a 21-yard scamper gave them a 7-0 lead.
The Rock responded right back four minutes later though. Kyle Sheets took the ball 46 yards and evened the game at seven. Sheets, who had missed the past few weeks of play, made his presence felt almost immediately.
The offense missed him. Kutztown head coach, Jim Clements, went on record saying that they only had a gameplan for him when they came to town. That kind of attention usually opens up other people. That’s exactly what they were hoping for with Shepherd.
Ronnie Brown gave the lead right back, this time from 43 yards out. On his two touchdown runs, Brown had 64 yards. But once again, The Rock continued to battle. They took the next five minutes of gameplay to take the ball 85 yards. But the last yard was fought for by Isaiah Edwards for what was thought to be the tying score. But D.J. Opsatnik had his extra point blocked. So, the score sat at 14-13.
The Rock defense made a stop the next drive, but the Rams were able to still put three on the board. It took eight minutes after for either team to get on the board again.
The Rock finally took the lead with one minute to play in the quarter after Grover hit Cohen Russell for a 29-yard strike. They were poised to walk into the half with a three point lead, but unfortunately for them, Bagent and the Rams work fast.
Eight plays in just one minute got them in range for the tying field goal. To Lutz, that hurt.
“It was a game of momentum, and we can’t let them score right before half,” Lutz said. “But even then, 20-20 at half, I liked where we were at.”
In the second half, it felt like whoever got on the board first was going to have the advantage. It took ten minutes for those points to be scored. Bagent took it in himself and just like that, it was a 27-20 lead.
Just a few minutes later, they took a ten-point lead after settling for a field goal.
Grover was not going to let the game end there, however. He punched the ball in from one yard, and that gave The Rock a chance late in the game to have a shot.
Bagent and the Rams held onto the ball for over five minutes and drove methodically down the field on 12 plays. A fourth down conversion was the back breaker, but a third down touchdown pass a few plays later ended almost any shot.
“That was killer, because we get that stop and they go for it and get it,” Lutz said. “We let Bagent get out of the pocket and make the throw.”
Now, The Rock packs their bags and goes home. The Rams get the rematch at Indiana (Pa.) for a chance to go to the final four.
“It what it is, but I think we stopped ourselves,” Lutz said.