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Wallace dominates for Rams

Prolific tailback runs for 311 yards, five TDs in win over W.Va. State

Prolific tailback runs for 311 yards, five TDs in win over W.Va. State

November 05, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Traditions are nothing more than a habit of repetition.

Repeat success, and hope it becomes a habit.

At Shepherd University, winning football championships is a tradition and it's one the Rams will gladly repeat for as long as titles are being handed out.

The Rams completed their fourth straight run to the West Virginia Conference title behind a record-setting 311-yard, five-touchdown performance by tailback Dervon Wallace on Saturday in a 42-7 demolition of West Virginia State at Ram Stadium.

The win was Shepherd's 31st in the WVIAC in the last 32 games - another tradition coach Monte Cater admits never gets old.

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"It never does and it never will," said Cater, who won his 11th WVIAC title in 21 years at Shepherd.

Shepherd won the conference title outright when West Liberty defeated Charleston. The Rams, who entered the game ranked third in the NCAA Division II Northeast Region poll, sealed a third straight national playoff berth.

Wallace has helped Shepherd (9-1, 7-1) reach its traditional ending for the last three championships. The diminutive 5-foot-5, 175-pound back roared into Shepherd's record books with a performance fitting for Senior Day.

Wallace carried the ball 27 times for his second 300-plus yard game in three weeks. He ran for scores of 4, 4, 13, 79 and 10 yards to set a Shepherd record for touchdowns in a game. The previous record of four TDs was shared by 10 players, including Wallace.

He also set Shepherd's school marks with 64 career rushing touchdowns and 66 total TDs, topping the marks of 60 and 61 set in 1996-99 by Damien Beane. Wallace set his marks in 34 games.

"It's crazy how this has all worked out," said Wallace, who has rushed for 897 yards in the last three games. "I owe the offensive line times 100. It all wouldn't be possible without them. I just wanted to have a big game and lead my team to victory. (Linebacker Joey Hooks) was injured and couldn't play today. I promised him he would get the chance to play here again."

Wallace and the Rams fulfilled the promise, but it wasn't supposed to be as easy as it turned out.

West Virginia State entered the game allowing just 120 yards per game rushing.

But Wallace broke loose early behind superior blocking by the front line and had 119 yards and two touchdowns by the 1:09 mark of the first quarter.

Shepherd amassed 570 yards of offense, including 465 rushing, to take total control of the game with a 35-0 lead at halftime. Vincent Riggs, Wallace's backup, ran for 98 yards and freshman Jimmy Sutch added 45 more.

"Dervon came out fired up and the front line was excited about the challenge they were given," Cater said. "If you can run the ball, you have a chance. We didn't have a lot of rhythm with the passing game."

Shepherd showed what its running game was made of on its first snap at its own 29.

Wallace went off right tackle and bounced outside for 40 yards on his first touch. Six plays later, Wallace went off left tackle at the 4 for his first score to give Shepherd the 7-0 lead with 9:06 remaining in the first quarter.

It all snowballed from there, as the Yellow Jackets turned the ball over five times and had a field goal blocked - leading to three Shepherd touchdowns.

The only score Wallace didn't produce was a 1-yard plunge around right end by backup quarterback Brett Zirkle with 32 seconds left in the first half.

Shepherd lost the shutout when State's Mike Jones caught a 3-yard pass from B. Nick Mullins with 38 seconds left in the game.

"I'm so proud of the kids and the coaches who get them prepared," Cater said. "It's amazing what we have done considering we lose all the senior classes and come back with the athletes we have and fill in. No club has had to do that more than this one."

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