After starting the 2012 season with three consecutive losses, the West Virginia Wesleyan football team seemed as though it had turned the corner, notching back-to-back wins at home.
A loss to the Shepherd Rams on the road would derail the Bobcats, at least for the time being. However, a win would give Wesleyan all the confidence in the world to attack the rest of the season with a chip on its shoulder.
Wesleyan was faced with that tough task on Saturday.
Shepherd is notorious as not only one of the best teams in the WVIAC, but also one of the best in the nation. On Saturday the Bobcats fell victim to the same mistakes that had plagued them during the first three weeks of the season.
It's almost a rule that if you play Shepherd, especially at its place, you need to eliminate as many mistakes as possible to even have a chance to win the game. Early in the contest, Wesleyan was forced to kick it away, a muffed punt gave the Rams great field position, along with momentum. Shepherd quarterback Bobby Cooper connected with Billy Brown on 15-yard pass into the end zone. The Rams took the early 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Bobcats got on the board from the most unlikely of candidates. Defensive End Brian Vukela came up with an interception off Cooper and took it the other way for a touchdown. After a missed extra point, Wesleyan trailed 7-6.
Shepherd quickly responded with a 14-play drive, resulting in a field goal. The Rams led 10-6 at the half.
Coming out of halftime the Bobcats must have felt good about holding the high-powered Shepherd offense to only 10 points in the first half. That quickly changed in the third quarter.
Shepherd's Allen Cross exploded in the second half, running for three touchdowns. The freshman tallied two scores in the third quarter and another touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Cooper threw for another touchdown late in the game and Shepherd rolled in the second half to a 37-6 victory.
Wesleyan took a step back this week after ripping off consecutive wins. The loss to Shepherd drops the Bobcats to 2-4 and two games below .500.
Wesleyan will be on the road next Saturday as it takes on conference rival Fairmont State at 1 p.m.