By Ed Niser

GROTON — Shepherd Hill (4-5) used its three-pronged hard-nosed running attack of Kevin Mensah (15 carries, 105 yards, TD) Brendan McKeon (14 carries, 165 yards, 3 TD) and Eddie Smith, as the Rams rumbled past Groton-Dunstable, 35-21.

They combined for 325 yards on the ground.

The Crusaders (2-7) drew within seven with two minutes remaining, when senior quarterback Michael Tammaro (14-for-20, 163 yards, 2 TD) connected on a 21-yard pass to tight end Cameron Battles in the back corner of the end zone.

G-D senior wide receiver Jack O’Neill hauled in three catches for 44 yards and picked off a pass in the second half. Mitchell Townsend racked up 55 yards receiving on five catches. Senior Nathaniel Forbes scored on a 7-yard reception early in the fourth quarter.

The Groton-Dunstable defense allowed a prime opportunity slip out of its grasps, when Mensah coughed the ball up at the Crusader 17 and recovered it.

“Mensah made some nice moves on that play,” said Groton-Dunstable head coach Tom Sousa. “We had good hustle to get back and strip it, but not enough. Someone needed to be on that pile to recover the ball. We had a chance and we said that on the field to the kids.”

Shepherd Hill answered swiftly as it recovered the onside kick just over the 50. Three plays later, McKeon bounced the ball outside and scurried 10 yards own the left sideline into the end zone to put the game out of reach.

Groton-Dunstable scored on its opening drive behind a six-yard rush from senior running back Logan Higgins (15 carries, 65 yards). Higgins used a nifty step-back move to shake a Ram defender at the 3 on his way to the end zone.

Shepherd Hill took over at its own 45 and quickly plowed deep into Groton-Dunstable territory behind long runs from McKeon and Mensah.

It would be McKeon who would jam the ball into the teeth of the Groton-Dunstable defense at the 2 for the touchdown on third and goal.

The Rams quickly marched down the field behind strong runs from Mensah and Smith. Groton-Dunstable’s defense stopped the Rams’ rushing attack at the goal line three straight times. But a gutsy call from Shepherd Hill head coach Chris Lindstrom gave the Rams the lead just before the half.

The Rams dialed up a quarterback keeper, as Jake Zablocki plowed his way in from the 1-yard line to put Shepherd Hill up,13-7, at the half.

“We have battled in every game we’ve had,” said Sousa.

“We are just finding ways to come up short. We were in the right position defensively on the plays they scored, but we just made critical mistakes.”

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