COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Shepherd scores comeback win to reach Division II football quarterfinals

Shepherd University receiver Josh Gontarek (19) catches a touchdown pass with under two seconds left in the game to give Shepherd a 38-34 Division II playoff win over Notre Dame (Ohio) College, The Rams will play Kutztown Saturday at Kutztown in the Atlantic Regional final. PROVIDED PHOTO

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. –  Junior quarterback Tyson Bagent (Martinsburg, W.Va./Martinsburg) fired a 23-yard scoring strike to graduate student wide receiver Josh Gontarek (New Market, Md./Linganore/Shippensburg) with 1.9 seconds left in regulation to lift Shepherd (12-1) to a 38-34 win over Notre Dame College (11-2) in second-round NCAA Division II playoff action Saturday.

Notre Dame took a 7-0 lead when Devanaire Conliffe scored on a 12-yard run with 8:26 left in the first quarter. 

Shepherd tied the game when junior running back Ty Hebron (Rockville, Md./Richard Montgomery) scored on a two-yard plunge with 2:08 left in the first quarter. 

Shepherd took a 14-7 lead when Bagent fired a six-yard scoring strike to graduate student wide receiver Jonathan Moss (Madison Ala./Bob Jones/Murray State) with 6:15 left in the second quarter 

Shepherd upped its lead to 21-7 when Bagent teamed with Gontarek on a nine-yard scoring pass with 1:07 left in the half. 

Chris Brimm teamed with Reece Perkins on a five-yard scoring pass for Notre Dame with two seconds left in the half to cut the lead to 21-14. 

Notre Dame tied the game when Brimm teamed with Davis Patterson on a 40-yard scoring pass with 14:06 left in the third quarter. 

Tanner Harding connected on a 36-yard field goal with 11:15 left in the third quarter to give the Falcons a 24-21 lead.

Shepherd kicker Hayden August-Scriven (North Potomac, Md./Quince Orchard) hit on a 32-yard field goal for the Rams minutes later to tie the game at 24-24.

Harding added a 21-yard field goal with 14;52 left in the fourth quarter to give Notre Dame a 27-24 lead. 

Hebron scored on a three-yard run with 12:50 left to give Shepherd a 31-27 advantage. 

Notre Dame countered with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a six-yard touchdown pass from Brimm to Jeremy Hamilton to give the Falcons a 34-31 lead with 28 seconds left in regulation.  

Sophomore running back Ronnie Brown (Baltimore, Md./Dundalk) fielded the ensuing kickoff at the 26-yard line and returned it to the Shepherd 45-yard line with 20 seconds left. 

Bagent teamed with redshirt freshman wide receiver Ryan Beach (Frederick, Md./Northwest) on a 32-yard pass to give Shepherd a first down at the Notre Dame 23-yard line with 10 seconds remaining to set up the game-winner.  

Bagent completed 30 of 50 passes for 301 yards and three scores. Brimm completed 23 of 35 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns. 

Brown had nine carries for 71 yards to lead the Shepherd ground game. Jalen Boyd had 22 carries for 95 yards to pace the Falcons. 

Moss had nine receptions for 69 yards to lead the Shepherd receivers.  Gontarek added seven grabs for 79 yards and Beach had seven catches for 97 yards. Patterson had six catches for 113 yards for the Falcons. 

Shepherd amassed 429 yards of total offense and Notre Dame totaled 497.

The Rams will travel to Kutztown, a 10-7 winner over New Haven, Saturday, Dec. 4, for a 12:05 p.m. contest. The winner of the clash between the two Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East rivals will reach the Division II semifinals. Kutztown was a 37-29 winner over Shepherd in their regular season meeting at Shepherdstown.

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