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Rams wave rock-a-bye to Marauders

August 26, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Monte Cater has been sleep-deprived.

For the last three months, Shepherd University's head coach has been tossing and turning with anxiety over the prospects of the Rams' coming season.

On Saturday, the Rams came up with a lullaby to calm Cater's nerves.

Tailback Dervon Wallace rushed for a career-high 215 yards and two touchdowns and Vincent Riggs ran for three more scores Saturday, while Shepherd's defense picked up where it left off last year, employing new personnel in a 36-7 rout of Millersville.

"I haven't been sleeping well for a long time, probably since the banquet in the spring," Cater said. "We had a big class leaving with a lot of talent, but we still had a lot of talent still here. I felt like if we just got into it and got going, we'd be fine. We were able to play a lot of guys today, but there were a lot of guys who were going out there for the first time in starting situations."

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The Rams didn't soothe Cater with anything from Brahms. It was more like Queen's "We Will Rock You."

It was hit, hit, sprint ... hit, hit, sprint ... hit, hit, sprint.

Wallace ran 24 times - including trademark bursts of 50 and 32 yards - but showed an ability to bull into the middle while keeping his 5-foot-6, 177-pound frame erect.

"The offensive line did a great job," Wallace said. "They gave me holes anyone could have run through. Getting 200 yards is pretty big. I look at it as setting new heights and it gives me new goals. But the most important thing is up on that scoreboard."

Wallace scored on runs of 3 and 2 yards and helped set up the bursts by Riggs, who reached the end zone from 10, 4 and 9 yards out.

"The offensive line, all of them, did great," Wallace said. "We rushed for five touchdowns, including three by our No. 2 back Riggs. We tried to keep everyone fresh in this heat, but we wanted to come out and set a tone."

It translated into the 29th consecutive regular-season victory for the Rams, the first behind new quarterback Tyler Lazear. Shepherd did it by controlling both lines and holding onto the football with a seven-minute advantage in possession.

"The offensive line gave us some huge creases to run through," Cater said. "Tyler played well and gave us things with his scrambling. We tried to control the game and make first downs. We tried to keep working to make their defense run more."

While Shepherd's offense rolled up 409 yards, it was the defense which made a statement by holding Millersville to 88 yards and pitching a virtual shutout. The Marauders' only score came after they were trailing 36-0, when Jimmie Cotton returned a punt 57 yards for a score with 5:03 remaining.

The Rams - who were replacing key defensive players like lineman Nick Costello, linebacker Todd Edmondson and safety Dan Peters - reduced Millersville to a standstill in the first half, allowing 10 yards on 17 plays while building a 19-0 lead.

"(Millersville's) option surprised us, but the defense had worked a little on it and I thought they did a good job," Cater said. "Our guys can run. We have a lot of speed and get to the ball."

It was a less-than-memorable starting debut for Millersville quarterback Jamal Smith, who threw for only 11 yards and rushed for 31 more out of the option.

"(Shepherd) really did control the lines," Millersville coach Joe Trainer said. "They made (Smith) play like he was a first-time starter."

Riggs scored to cap the Rams' first possession of the season and Wallace got his first TD to put Shepherd up 12-0 after the first quarter. Riggs accounted for 30 yards on Shepherd's second-quarter drive, capping it with his 4-yard burst up the middle for the 19-0 halftime lead.

Wallace ripped off his 50-yard run and followed it with a 2-yard sweep around left end for his second score. Bryan Beverage added a 33-yard field goal for a 29-0 lead through three quarters before Riggs scored for the final time.

It all put Cater's mind at ease.

"Millersville is a physical team," he said. "I didn't expect this."

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