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Rams post sixth shutout of the season

October 29, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherd University celebrated Senior Day on Saturday afternoon against West Virginia Wesleyan. The Rams' seniors, however, turned it into a record day.

Shepherd dominated the Bobcats from start to finish to post a school-record sixth shutout and senior Ricky Schmitt became the school leader in field goals with a career-long 49-yarder as the Rams thumped Wesleyan 41-0 in West Virginia Conference action.

The Rams defense, which featured nine starting seniors, gave up just 44 yards of offense to the Bobcats in its last regular-season home game.

"I don't think there's any doubt that those guys take pride in shutting teams out," said Shepherd coach Monte Cater. "They had a couple of big stops, too. They don't want anyone in that end zone."

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Wesleyan (2-6, 1-4) made it past midfield just twice in the game - both on big special teams plays. Domonique Staten had a 79-yard kickoff return in the first half and Bryan Overton had a 65-yard return in the fourth quarter for the only Bobcat drives in Shepherd territory.

But the Rams (8-0, 5-0) stood tough both times. Senior Dan Peters intercepted a Dan Ramos pass at the 3-yard line to halt the first drive and the Rams forced a turnover on downs at the 15 on Wesleyan's final series of the game to secure the shutout.

Schmitt made it into the Shepherd record books with two field goals to give him 29 for his career. Schmitt eclipsed Rick Kingsbury, whose record of 28 field goals stood for 30 years.

"My previous long in a game was 45 yards, but I've hit from 60 in practice," Schmitt said. "The wind was blowing horizontally, I was more worried about the mud. I had to get a good plant."

Joining in on the senior festivities were quarterback Dan Chlebowski and receiver Rodney Jackson, who got a rare opportunity to showcase the passing game on a generally run-heavy team.

Chlebowski completed 15 of 17 passes for a season-high 223 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson six receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns.

"We've been together for five years now. He's like my brother," said Jackson of his relationship with Chlebowski. "We have a good running team and we block a lot, but we can pass when we want to, like today."

Chlebowski hit Jackson on touchdown passes of 29 and 24 yards - both deep on the right side of the end zone.

"They played so many people up on the ball that we had to drop back and pass," Cater said. "We were getting some nice mismatches down the field and it opened up the vertical game."

Two more seniors had touchdown catches for the Rams. Chlebowski found Chadd Wood for a 14-yard score before leaving the game at halftime with a 24-0 lead. Sophomore Tyler Lazear entered the game and hit Bryan Wright with a 14-yard touchdown.

"The offensive line did a great job and we had all day to throw," Chlebowski said. "It was a great day. You always want to go out with a win."

The Rams had three interceptions and sacked Ramos five times. Senior Bobby Jarvis had an interception on the first play from scrimmage, setting up Schmitt's first field goal from 23 yards.

Peters returned his seventh interception of the season 97 yards for what appeared to be a touchdown. But a personal foul brought the return back to the Shepherd 20, where the Rams began a five-play scoring drive.

"These seniors have been working hard here for a long time and they deserve it," Cater said. "It was a special game for them."

While it was a day for the seniors to shine, the Rams also got a look at what should be a promising future. Lazear was 7-for-12 for 78 yards and junior Dervon Wallace led the Rams with 94 rushing yards and a touchdown. Sophomore defensive end Michael Speigelberg had three sacks, while fellow sophomore Louis Corum chased Ramos all around the field and had an interception.

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