Shepherd's vets win finale

November 11, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

Shepherd's vets win finale

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - On Veterans Day, the Shepherd College football team held its own commemoration.

While the nation took time to remember its war veterans, the Rams showcased their vets - the seniors who have gone to war for them over the years.

And those seven players waved the flag in grand fashion Saturday, leading Shepherd to a resounding 51-0 victory over West Virginia Wesleyan at the new Ram Stadium. The seniors were not only saluted, they excelled.

"This was a good way to go out," Shepherd coach Monte Cater said. "Ideally, this was a great situation. The thing was to let them go out with a win and to give our seniors a prominent part of the game. This is one that they will always remember.


And they should. For that matter, so should everyone on the field and in the stands.

The season finale wasn't the way Shepherd (7-3, 5-2) had ended seasons in the recent past. The last three seasons ended with West Virginia Conference championships along with two trips to the NCAA Division II playoffs. But an early loss to Fairmont ended Shepherd's postseason aspirations and a fourth straight league title went out the window in last week's loss to West Liberty.

All there was left was to play for pride and memories and all seven seniors had a hand in the victory - some more spectacular than others - while one school record was set, tied another and a national record was enhanced. Follow the roll call.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Tailback Dalevon Smith rushed for a school-record 267 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries. The junior college transfer scored on runs of 75 and 60 yards 35 seconds apart to help the Rams assume a 30-0 lead with 14:34 left in the third quarter.

Smith's 6-yard gain with 5:36 left in the third period gave him the yardage he needed to surpass the single game mark of 265 set by Damian Beane against Fairmont in 1996. He added earlier scores of 32 and 9 yards to tie Beane's 1998 mark of 19 rushing touchdowns in a season.

"Whew, 51-zip ... what a nice way to go out," Smith said. "My linemen gave me big holes that anyone could have run through and I was glad to run through them. It feels good to go out like this. I feel good, my line feels good. I got the record. Tonight, it's time (to party)."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Defensive back James Rooths padded his NCAA all-divisions record for punt return touchdowns with two second-half charges for touchdowns. The All-American used his speed and set up some devastating special teams blocking for returns of 86 and 65 yards - both in the third quarter - to pad his record to 10 career punt return touchdowns. They were the first two - and last two - of his senior season.

He also intercepted his ninth pass of the season and 13th of his career to preserve the Rams first home shutout since 1998 while moving into a tie for seventh place on the all-time pickoff list.

"This is a heck of a way to go out," Rooths said. "Our goal today as to have a good game for all the seniors and to see some guys do some things and to have fun. Those runbacks ... I should have had more this year, but I was trying too hard. The last two games, coach (Pete) Yurish told me to relax and let it all hang out and it worked."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Fullback Jerit Seidor rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown, helping the Rams control the ball in the second half.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Receiver Shane Snyder caught a pair of passes for 10 yards.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> All-American defensive end candidate Chris Field was credited with just four tackles, including three for losses and a sack, while adding relentless pressure in Wesleyan's backfield.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Linebacker Chanse Twyman had seven tackles, including three for losses and a sack.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Offensive lineman Dan Woodard played guard and tackle for Shepherd to lead the way for Smith and Siedor. He also checked in at tight end and even took a turn at long snapper on a punt.

Shepherd led 8-0 after the first quarter on Smith's first TD and Tyron Shelby's blocked punt which went out of the end zone for a safety. The Rams added 15 points in the second quarter and 28 in the third, keyed by three TDs in a 1:36 span overlapping the two halves.

The Rams finished with 523 yards of offense, including 419 on the ground. Wesleyan (2-8, 2-5) chipped in with 19 penalties for 176 yards and only 142 yards of offense.

"It was hard because we wanted to run out the clock," Cater said. "Then we started scoring every way possible. I wish we could have spread some of these points out (to eliminate the three losses by a total of 11 points)."

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