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Shepherd gets best at the last

October 24, 1998|By DAN SPEARS

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Damian Beane was down.

The nation's second-leading Division II rusher going into Saturday's game against Fairmont State, the Shepherd College running back had fumbled twice and was under 100 yards on the ground for the game when he dropped a third-down pass from quarterback Matt Davis at midfield with two minutes to go and his team behind by three.

But Fairmont coach Doug Sams knew trouble was brewing.

"I was really pleased with our defense," Sams said afterward. "But you're not going to shut down Beane. He's going to get his."

Davis converted on fourth down and then scrambled to the Fairmont 26, where Beane finally did get his - and took the Falcons' potential win, too.

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Beane took a counter play 25 yards to the 1, and Davis went in on the next play to complete an eight-play, 84-yard drive to give the Rams a 19-16 victory in a battle of West Virginia Conference unbeatens at Ram Stadium.

"I was down on myself, but my teammates kept me up," said Beane, who finished with 123 yards for his school-record 22nd 100-yard rushing game. "And the defense kept us in it all day."

Shepherd coach Monte Cater agreed.

"If they don't have a good day keeping points off the board, we don't win," he said.

The tide turned on a play everyone expected Fairmont to get points on, but didn't.

With 3:32 to go, the Falcons had fourth-and-goal at the Shepherd 16. Fairmont (3-4, 3-1) trotted out kicker Nathan White for a field goal.

"It concerned me," Cater said. "At that point a field goal (for us) wouldn't have been an option."

Then, instead of kicking, Fairmont ran a fake that left Shannon Kundla wide open in the end zone. But White underthrew him, and - although it wasn't the way they had planned - the Rams' defense held again.

Kundla was wide open after he got by linebacker Tom Mercer, who knew he had made a mistake.

"I was just hoping my man doesn't catch the ball," Mercer said.

Which was a big problem all day for the offense of the Rams (6-1, 4-0). Before the fake field goal, their lone highlights were a Davis-to-Adley Shepherd 75-yard TD pass and James Rooths' NCAA record-tying fourth punt return touchdown of the season.

But presented with one last chance, the Rams took off. Davis found Thomas Snyder - a transfer from Fairmont - for 34 yards to the 50 on the first play of the final drive to set up Beane and Davis' heroics.

"I was really looking for Adley, but he was covered," Davis said, "and Snyder was just standing there by himself."

Fairmont had one last chance, but it ended at midfield.

"We needed to put it away," Sams said. "But you've really got to take your hat off to them; they still had to make the drive."

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