Shepherd defense shows up

October 11, 1998|By DAN SPEARS

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Scoring 35 points in collegiate football is becoming the rule rather than the exception.

Which means pitching a shutout is something rare indeed. So mark Shepherd's 35-0 drubbing of Concord on Saturday with an asterisk. Head coach Monte Cater did.

"You play for a whole game, and there's so many things that can happen," Cater said. "A shutout in college is so hard to come by. Our defense just played great."

That was an unheard statement from the Rams' leader over the past two games, when the team's usually reliable defense had been rescued by a high-scoring offense.


But things were back to the way the Rams (4-1, 2-0 WVC) were used to on Saturday.

"That's the defense ... Coach Cater expects," said linebacker Tom Mercer, a Jefferson High graduate. "We weren't doing the little things."

"We were running to the ball," said freshman linebacker Tyron Shelby. "We had a hat on the ball on every play."

And if it wasn't a hat, it was a hand. Shepherd forced three fumbles (recovering two), intercepted four passes by the Mountain Lions (4-2, 1-1) and tipped nine others.

"We did a good job against the run and pass," Cater said. "And we were able to contain a player who gave us so much trouble last year."

That player would be Concord quarterback Mike Lazo, who threw for 281 yards and scored three rushing TDs last season in a Shepherd win.

But Saturday, he was pinned in. The Concord offense started inside its own 20-yard line seven times, forcing Lazo to go 18-for-39 for just 144 yards and take five sacks.

"We heard people saying our defensive backs were what was hurting us," Mercer said. "That meant we (the linebackers) weren't getting things closed. Today, we got in the way of the throwing lanes, and that made a difference."

And after a sluggish start, the offense finally made a difference as well. Harlon Hill-candidate tailback Damian Beane finished with 216 yards on 36 carries - the ninth 200-yard game in his career.

But his best moves came on a busted play in the second quarter, when quarterback Matt Davis was just about ready to take a sack and flung the ball at Beane, who was about three yards away.

With virtually the entire Concord defense on Davis, Beane ran free, eluding several tackles to get to the 3-yard line, where Shepherd scored on the next play for a 7-0 lead.

"I thought he would have thrown it by then," Beane said. "But he got it there and then it was open space."

And as good as the play turned out, Cater still rolled his eyes at it.

"He never should have thrown it," Cater said. "It's one of those, 'Good job. Don't ever do it again'-type things."

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