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Wallace stands tall for Rams

August 29, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - By the end of the season, Dervon Wallace might turn Ram Stadium into another Disneyland.

If his first performance for Shepherd University is any indication, it's a small world afterall.

Wallace used his diminutive size to both his and the Rams' advantage to provide the change-of-pace style Shepherd needed to ignite the offense Saturday in a 24-6 season-opening win over Virginia State.

Wallace is a magic trick waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. Now you see him, now you don't as he gets into the line of scrimmage and out of the sight of Virginia State's defense.

"My size helped me, but I'm just trying to do the things I can do," Wallace said.

What Wallace did was add a much needed spark to Shepherd's attack.

Starter Bryan Wright, a 5-foot-7, 195-pound graduate of Hampshire who transferred from West Virginia, displayed an ability to go inside for tough yardage despite his small size. Wright finished with 90 yards and a touchdown - set up by a Wallace punt return in the fourth quarter - primarily challenging the middle.

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Wallace, a 5-8, 174-pound transfer from West Virginia State, used a waterbug style which made him tough to hit. After fumbling his first carry, Wallace made up for it by adding 33 yards rushing, catching a touchdown pass and returned two punts for 56 yards, including the 39-yarder to set up Wright's game-sealing touchdown.

"I knew we were going to be rotating the backs," Wallace said. "I just wanted to stay patient and be ready for when my number was called to do whatever I can do."

The Rams, moved the ball but failed to get into the scoring zone until Wallace started his second series on the field. He went to the outside edges of the line on four of the first five plays of Shepherd's first possession of the second quarter, managing 16 yards to move the Rams from the Trojan 40 to 24.

Wright came in and powered the Rams to the 2 before quarterback Dan Chlebowski hit Wallace on a drag pattern along the goal line for the touchdown.

"I was worried about the field conditions and how they would play," said Shepherd coach Monte Cater about the rainy conditions. "We have four guys up front who are back from last year and Dervon came on and worked with us during the spring. Bryan is coming in and running his WVU stuff. Wallace will help us but we have to find ways to get him in the open."

One way to get Wallace in the open field was to put him back to return punts. All-American defensive back Dustin Dudinski is the primary returner, but Wallace chipped in at times.

The key kick came with Virginia State pinned to the goal line. Wallace broke for the short punt and took a risk gathering it on the bounce in the middle of the oncoming coverage. He scooped it cleanly and charged down the left sideline before being knocked out of bounds at the 1.

Wright scored two plays later.

"It was right when I was being greedy," Wallace said. "I promised myself that I was going to get two touchdowns. You can't always get what you want."

The kick return came at a time when Shepherd's offense was rather tentative and needed something to ignite it again.

"That gave us one back that we gave to them," Cater said. "This wasn't the scorefest I thought it could be. It came at a time we definitely needed it."

Though Wallace's first game numbers weren't eye-popping, the small back came up big for Shepherd.

"I'm not worried about stats as long as we win," he said. "The most important thing is to pick up wins. You have to be unselfish and do what you have to do to pick up wins."

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