Shepherd's defense knocked the University of Charleston out of its element, and subsequently knocked the Golden Eagles out of a share of the top spot in the West Virginia Conference.
UC, which relies heavily on a powerful running game, was limited to 47 rushing yards in a 16-10 loss to Shepherd Saturday afternoon at UC Stadium, where a crowd of 2,655 gathered on a sunny and pleasant first day of autumn.
The loss dropped the Golden Eagles to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the West Virginia Conference, while Shepherd improved to 3-1, 2-0.
"We played probably one of the best defenses in the country, and it showed," UC coach Pat Kirkland said. "Their front four guys are the best we'll see all year. They played really well and we didn't execute."
UC entered the showdown as the top rushing team in the WVC, averaging 263 yards over its first three games. Jordan Roberts' average of 123.7 yards per game led the conference by a wide margin, but on Saturday he was limited to 20 yards on 12 carries.
"We never got the running game going so that took away our passing game," Kirkland said. "You gotta give them a reason to take all their guys out of the box, and we didn't."
To compound UC's woes, quarterback Maurice Leak, playing on an injured ankle, completed just 13 of his 33 passes for 144 yards, while his backup, John Knox, was 0 for 5 with one game-changing interception.
"He's still hurt," Kirkland said of Leak. "He tried to go but he's not the quarterback he's used to being. He couldn't really plant on his back foot, but I appreciate the effort."
With UC leading 10-0 late in the first half and driving for a potential tack-on score before the break, Shepherd's Keon Robinson stepped in front of a Knox pass near the UC sideline and returned the interception 48 yards for a touchdown with just 31 seconds left before halftime.