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SHEPHERDSTOWN -- No question. When Shepherd University quarterback Tyson Bagent drops back into the passing pocket, he’s well into his comfort zone.

Bagent’s with-authority, on-target throws to his receivers have gotten good results game after game. It’s no wonder the Rams’ junior signal-caller has passed his way into the record books once again.

Bagent set a school record for most touchdown passes in a single season during the Rams’ 55-7 rout of East Stroudsburg on Saturday at Ram Stadium. He completed 27 of 45 passes for 437 yards and six touchdowns.

Bagent’s TD scores now stand at 42, surpassing the single-season mark of 40, set by Connor Jessop in 2017.

While it may have looked easy for him to set that single-season mark on Saturday, Bagent, the PSAC’s leading passer, said it was anything but easy.

“There was a lot of man coverage out there,” he said. “That’s something which we don’t see a lot of. So, it was kind of all on the receivers. If you can get open, things will work out. If you don’t, it’s going to be a long day, so our receivers did a great job today.”

Getting to the ball wasn’t much of a problem for the Rams’ receivers. Josh Gontarek was Shepherd’s top receiver on Saturday, with eight catches for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Bagent hooked up with Gontarek for his first touchdown pass four minutes into the game. Bagent hit Gontarek with a 49-yard TD catch. He went back to Gontarek for another touchdown pass with 14 seconds to go in the third quarter on a 21-yard pass play.

“Josh is a great player,” Bagent said. “He did a great job with the mismatches. That’s how you’ve got to look at man coverage. I think he approached it that way. That’s why he had such a good day.”

Gontarek said he’s liked the way things have come together this season and how successful the passing game has been.

“I think we’ve worked really hard the way around,” Gontarek said. “Offense, defense, the special teams, they all did a good job. But, of course, there are still some things we need to correct. We’ll do that this week in practice and keep getting better and better.”

While most of the passes were run as post patterns, Gontarek said, for the most part, Shepherd was free to run a variety of patterns, given the fact most were successful. From short-range to long-range passes, Bagent stayed on target and his receivers moved to the ball quickly.

Bagent threw a pair of touchdowns to Greg Leonard. He caught a 5-yarder late in the first half and hauled in a 10-yard TD pass with 5 minutes, 5 seconds left in the third quarter.

Jonathan Moss caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Bagent early in the second quarter. At the 7:12 mark of the third quarter, Ryan Beach caught a 28-yard TD pass from Bagent.

Shepherd never trailed in Saturday’s game. The Rams (9-1) led at halftime, 24-0, then sent on a 24-7 scoring run in the third quarter, putting the game well out of reach for the Warriors.

Ronnie Brown scored Shepherd’s final touchdown of the game on a 25-yard run in the fourth quarter. Hayden August-Scriv kicked seven extra points. He also had a pair of field goals, good for 19 and 29 yards, respectively.

“I think our kids did a great job all day long,” Shepherd coach Ernie McCook said. “It was a trap game for us. We knew that this was a very good football team that was playing well. We had to play fundamentally sound football. I think we did in all three phases. We had one kickoff return that was a little sideways for us, but other than that, it was the only letdown we had.”

With Saturday’s win, Shepherd closes out its regular season this Saturday, hosting Clarion University, instead of Slippery Rock University, which is playing in the PSAC championship game on Saturday.

McCook knew if Slippery Rock ended up playing in the PSAC title game, the Rams would host Clarion. Although a loss to Kutztown University earlier in the season knocked Shepherd out of the league title game, a 9-1 mark still keeps the Rams well in the hunt for an NCAA Division II playoff berth.

A No. 10 ranking in the most recent Division II football poll strengthens Shepherd’s chances for an at-large bid in a 28-team playoff field, which makes Saturday’s regular-season finale against Clarion critical.

“I feel like we’re in a good spot for the playoffs,” McCook said. The Rams are ranked third in the region.

“Next week’s game is going to be pivotal for us,” McCook said. “We want to play at home, in front of our fans.”

Shepherd amassed 640 yards in total offense.


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