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Rams pick up the pieces

October 21, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

Rams pick up the pieces



SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The Shepherd College football team suffered the most ominous of Homecomings last week.

The Rams came home from a rousing victory over West Virginia University-Tech only to trip over the doormat in a crushing loss to Fairmont.

That will very well have Shepherd staying home for the holidays.

About the only warm feeling the Rams have left to make that postseason stay at home more palatable is a fourth straight West Virginia Conference title - and even that will have to take a big turn around and a lot of luck, starting today at 1 p.m., when Shepherd plays at West Virginia State.

The Rams (4-2, 3-1) fell from the graces of the NCAA Division II rankings with the loss to the Falcons. Yet, if Shepherd can sweep its last four games, it could earn a tie for the WVC title.

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The first step will come today when West Liberty (5-1, 3-0) heads to Fairmont (3-3, 2-1). Wins by Shepherd and Fairmont would forge a three-way tie for the WVC lead.

Shepherd travels to play West Liberty on Nov. 4, the next most important game to decide the league championship.

But that borders on daydreaming for the Rams.

Before Shepherd can even begin thinking of keeping the conference banner, they have to find a Band-Aid for its leaky second-half play.

Shepherd dominated the first half against Fairmont, but as the Rams have done for the whole season, they got dominated in the second half.

Fairmont scored 19 unanswered points in the second half as the Rams let another game get away, much like they have in their other home games with St. Joseph's and Concord. On the first two occasions, Shepherd hung on to stay in the playoff hunt.

Shepherd has battled injury problems all season long on defense, putting the Rams in situations where they wear down in the second half. But the offense hasn't helped with it's inability to stay on the field.

The Rams head to West Virginia State (1-2, 2-5) with hopes of the offense returning to full strength with the return of tailback Dalevon Smith. Smith, who leads the conference in rushing, sat out last week with a sprained ankle. Travis Lynch more than filled in in the absence, rushing for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

The Yellow Jackets are coming off a second-half rally of their own to knock off WVU-Tech last week. They are led by running back Mustapha Butler, who is sixth in the WVC at 58.6 yards per game, and quarterback Paul Phillips, who has thrown for 514 yards and five touchdowns.

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