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Defining moments - C.W. Post parcels diverse attack to express

November 20, 2005|By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - As it turned out, Shepherd University only had the choice of a few unsavory options.

"Our offense is so special," said C.W. Post quarterback Ricky Blount. "You have to pick your death."

And for the Rams, it was death by execution. On a day of new beginnings for Shepherd as it hosted its first-ever home playoff game, it was old-school perfection that will keep the Rams home for the holidays.

C.W. Post took advantage of a Shepherd defense geared to stop the freestyle wanderings of Blount and crossed the Rams up with a power running game featuring tailback Anthony Lazarus to score a 28-21 victory Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs at Ram Stadium.

"They tried to slow-play me a lot," said Blount, whose gaudy statistics and scary mobility made him Shepherd's top concern. "If you go for me, then we have Big Laz."

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The Rams lost at their own game. Shepherd had hoped to control the ball, keeping it out of Blount's hands while keeping the Pioneers' 45 points-per-game offense off the field.

It worked, to a point. Blount was rendered ordinary, despite throwing for three touchdowns, but Lazarus turned the game into an inside job with 99 yards rushing.

"They got more mileage from the inside runs," said Shepherd coach Monte Cater. "We were concerned with the pitches and scrambling, the things they would do to expand our defense. They did a good job of staying patient."

Post's patience paid off with the only touchdown in the second half - a 58-yard strike from Blount to Ryan Heller with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter - while totally controlling the game. The Pioneers held the ball for 22:33 of the second half with a 46-19 play advantage over the Rams.

"It is a game of making adjustments and it was a matter of taking what they were giving," said C.W. Post coach Bryan Collins.

"We saw that they were working to the outside and leaving the middle open. Robbie did a good job reading it and Laz was doing a great job getting us 4-5 yards a carry. We executed well. It is tough to defend Robbie and get in there to stop a big back like that."

As a reward, Post will face East Stroudsburg in the Northeast Region final next week.

The game gave every impression of becoming a shootout in the first half as the two teams traded touchdowns in the first half to fight to a 21-21 tie. The Pioneers found the answer to contain Shepherd's playmaker, Dervon Wallace, while hitting on the power plays to keep Shepherd's defense on the field far longer than Cater was hoping.

Wallace managed a pair of touchdowns, which gave him the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's single-season scoring record with 162 points, but was held to 79 yards rushing. He was a major contributor in Shepherd's other score with a masterful 75-yard run on a swing pass before fumbling on the 1, needing Craig Tremel to fall on the ball in the end zone for the touchdown.

"Wallace is a good running back," Collins said. "We had a good game plan, but we weren't getting the leverage we wanted on him defensively. We did that and made adjustments on the bootleg play they were running and we played better. It was just a little tweaking at halftime."

C.W. Post began gaining control at the end of the first quarter after Shepherd had taken a 14-7 lead.

Wallace's 1-yard run at the 3:53 mark of the first quarter gave the Rams the lead, but Blount found Jo-el Kimaiyo on a 4-yard pass that Blount found on an improvising scramble to tie the game three minutes later. Wallace's long reception and Tremel's recovery as time ran out in the quarter gave Shepherd the lead.

From there, Post ran 70 of the final 101 plays in the game and owned the ball for 70 percent of the final three quarters (31:43).

"We knew what was coming. It wasn't any different than what we saw on film," Shepherd linebacker Todd Edmondson said. "We were prepared for it. It wasn't our game today."

Adebayo Adedapo scored from the 6 to get Post back to even at 14-14. After Wallace scored on a 19-yard run, Blount hit Heller on a 5-yard hitch with 14 seconds remaining in the half to tie the game at 21-21.

The Pioneers controlled the ball while Shepherd continued to run quick offensive series and kick after getting the ball near midfield. Post began to grind on Shepherd.

"In the second half, they kept the football," Cater said. "We had a good game plan, but the defense was on the field much longer than we wanted. The defense did a great job, but (C.W. Post) did the things we wanted to do."

The Pioneers got what became the game-winning touchdown late in the third quarter when Blount used his mobility to buy nearly 10 seconds of time to find Heller streaking down the right hashmarks. Blount hit the 6-foot-5 Heller at the 10 as he snatched the ball from the much smaller Shepherd defender to head for the score.

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