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Shepherd avenges its last loss

September 17, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - On Saturday, the stars came out as usual for Shepherd University.

Tailback Dervon Wallace ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Safety Dan Peters got another interception. Linebacker Joey Hooks had eight tackles and recovered a fumble.

They all were important for the No. 14 Rams to have a chance in their rematch with No. 17 C.W. Post, which knocked Shepherd out of the NCAA Division II playoffs last season. But it was the supporting cast which lifted and separated Shepherd from the competition in its 24-0 victory over the Pioneers in the home opener at Ram Stadium.

"Coach prepared us this week not to match their intensity. We wanted to top it," Shepherd defensive back Terrance Jenkins said. "We wanted to come out and get this one. We have been pointing to this one because we remember them dancing on our 50-yard line after last year's game."

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And in true, nationally ranked fashion, the Rams (3-0) were equal to, and far exceeded, the task at hand.

It started with senior tailback Bryan Wright, who worked as a lead blocker to convoy Wallace for drive-sustaining yardage in key situations. Wright led on four runs for 54 of Wallace's yards.

It was capped by big plays on defense by Jenkins, defensive end Michael Spiegelberg and linebacker Louis Corum, who all made big hits on plays that helped teammates, such as Peters, get turnovers. All three occasions ended with touchdowns by Wallace.

"The defense has excellent speed," Shepherd coach Monte Cater said. "We talk about that all the time. (Defensive coordinator Bob) Haley likes to use it to make them run to the ball. We never let (Post) get into a rhythm."

Shepherd, which won the yardage battle (308-237) and time of possession battle (31:37 to 28:23), got an all-important 3-0 lead on its first possession with a drive built on short passes to the tight ends and screen passes to the wide receivers. Wright made his debut as a lead blocker for Wallace on the drive, clearing the way for a 22-yard run, leading to Ricky Schmitt's 35-yard field goal.

"That was huge psychologically," Cater said. "We go right down - and yeah, only got three - but it was huge. We were going to the tight ends and moving the ball. We had two weeks to work on it and we were looking for ways to get both tailbacks on the field at the same time so we could use their speed."

Wright gladly excepted the new assignment.

"I didn't mind blocking at all. I just enjoy being out there," he said. "I just want to do what it takes to win. It's something that you won't see in the papers, but to be a complete player you need to be able to do it. I don't mind doing the dirty work. ... It's better than standing on the sidelines."

It all started Shepherd on its way to a 17-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

With the lead, Shepherd turned the game over to the defense. It responded with its second straight shutout. And by virtue of big plays, the Rams - who have allowed only seven points this season - extended their scoreless streak to 10 quarters.

On the first play following the field goal, Post quarterback Nick Georgetti tried to throw a swing pass to Chris Bone on the right sideline. Jenkins darted in and broke up the play, knocking it in the air for linebacker Todd Edmondson to intercept.

"We felt like (the 28-21 playoff last year) was a lot because of our mistakes," Jenkins said. "Last year, we were watching their quarterback. This year, we focused on playing their whole team. That play was big for the team. We were up at that point, but it put the offense back on the field to start puttting it out of range."

A 17-yard swing pass from Dan Chlebowski to Wright set up Wallace's run from the 1 for the 10-0 lead with 3:05 left in the quarter.

The defense quickly turned the tide again. On the third play after the ensuing kickoff, Bone fumbled on a hit by Spiegelberg on a reverse sweep. Hooks recovered the loose ball at the Shepherd 41.

"Every play, my job is to get to the quarterback and get a sack or get a break," Spiegelberg said. "We had to keep them shut down and not give them any openings. They weren't able to run on us."

Two plays later, Wallace broke off a 36-yard run on a sweep for a 17-0 Shepherd lead with 28 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Shepherd held the 17-point advantage into the fourth quarter until Corum, who also had eight tackles, hit Georgetti as he attempted to pass. The throw was off the mark and into the hands of Peters, who grabbed his fifth interception of the season and 23rd of his career to give the Rams the ball at the Post 32.

Three plays later, Wallace ran a 21-yard sweep for the final touchdown and the 24-0 lead with 3:12 remaining.

"We've been working for this game all summer," Wright said. "They got us last year. We wanted to make sure to give them a taste of what they gave us."

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