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Shepherd win keeps Big Syd's season alive

November 26, 1998

So I'm in the VIP lounge at BWI, waiting for the next wide-body jet to haul this wide body someplace warm for the winter.

It was last Saturday afternoon, and after learning of the losses by previously unbeaten Middletown and Musselman in their respective state playoffs, I suddenly realized that no local teams were still playing.

My football-picking season was over, with yet another personal record for accuracy in the books.

Well, OK, so I hadn't heard a final score yet from Indiana, Pa., but there was no way that Shepherd, in its very first NCAA Division II playoff game, could knock off Frank Cignetti's perennial national title contenders. Right? Right. See ya, Hub City.

Forty-five seconds to pack, zero to 70 in 6.3 seconds in the Lamborghini and 47 minutes from the Dual Highway to the long-term parking garage at the airport.

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They were calling my flight to Tahiti (first-class boarding, naturally) when the mechanical voice on the PA was drowned out by the shrieking of Tom Tucker, Shepherd's radio play-by-play announcer.

Now, on a good day, you'd need a tailwind the strength of Hurricane Mitch in order to get WRNR's signal to carry as far east as Myersville. But I didn't even need a radio to hear the ordinarily dulcet-toned Tucker's hyperemotional description of the climactic play of the Rams' 9-6 upset of IUP - a blocked game-tying extra point attempt which was returned 85 yards for the biggest two points in Shepherd's gridiron history.

I hadn't heard anything like it since the Hindenburg blew up ("Oh, the humanity!"), and its emotional impact sent my fellow VIP patrons into a similar panic. While various B-list celebrities, international covert operatives and about 37 junketing Congresspeople milled around in a daze, I calmly walked to the counter to cancel my flight.

My season wasn't over, after all. Got to head back to the Hub City to punch out one more column. Luckily, Carmen Electra (nee Rodman) isn't scheduled to sublet my apartment until the first of the month.

Twenty minutes to slink back to long-term parking. About another half-hour to finally get around to firing up the Lamborghini. Another three days to wend my way back to Hagerstown (don't ask). Another day and a half to dig the keyboard out of the bottom of my Louis Vuitton knapsack. Eight minutes to write this column.

So here you have it. A few more picks, then sayonara. I'm going where no play-by-play voice can smoke me out. Just so Ron knows where to forward my check.

On with the predictions (last week: 7-4, .636; season: 213-63, .771):

HIGH SCHOOLS




Saturday's game

Urbana 21, Fort Hill 6 (Md. Class 2A finals) - Urbana curbs Sentinels' surprising drive for state title.

COLLEGES




Today's game

West Virginia 43, Pittsburgh 23 - After today, Zereoue can't wait to play in an NFL stadium again.

Saturday's games

Penn State 24, Michigan State 14 - Lions could sneak into the Outback via the back door.

Slippery Rock 20, Shepherd 13 (NCAA Division II quarterfinals) - Rams' roll comes to an end at the Rock.

PROS




Ravens 27, Colts 23 - Ravens' defense puts Peyton in his place.

Packers 36, Eagles 10 - Unless Chuck Bednarik, Tommy McDonald and Norm Van Brocklin suit up for Philly.

Raiders 22, Redskins 20 - No, it's not true that when the Skins heard about this road trip last summer, half of them booked cabins at Deep Creek Lake.

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