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Wallace is Rams' No. 1

November 07, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - For those who don't know Dervon Wallace, they might think he wears No. 1 on his Shepherd University football uniform to make him look taller.

At an admitted 5-foot-5, 177 pounds, the senior tailback needs all the help he can get.

It sure makes him easy to find, too, since he's the first name on the Rams' team roster.

But when Wallace takes the field, he proves why he is No. 1 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, for the Rams and now in the school's record books.

Wallace played his last regular season game at Rams Stadium on Saturday and went out leaving a lasting impression by rushing for a school-record 311 yards and five touchdowns in Shepherd's 42-7 rout of West Virginia State.

The victory gave the Rams their fourth straight WVIAC title while Wallace was etching his name into Shepherd immortality. He sealed that during his final appearance on the field in the third quarter by carying the ball on every snap of a 10-play drive, finishing off with a 10-yard sweep to eclipse the marks for touchdowns and yards rushing in his final play.

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"I knew it was going to be my last drive," Wallace said. "I knew I was coming out after that one, so I wanted them to put the ball in my hands. If I didn't get a first down, it was my fault. But I wanted to finish the drive."

Wallace did it in vintage fashion. He accounted for all 86 yards of the drive with runs ranging from 24 and 15 yards to 2- and 4-yard charges into the line.

He ran out of the single-back set and followed the blocks of his offensive line. He was patient, waiting for things to open, using cuts, stutter steps and dead stops to gain an advantage against the opposition. And in every case, he got back to full speed again in just two steps.

"That's the style I've had my whole life," Wallace said. "It gets me by. I'm 5-5 and 175 and that's my advantage. People wonder how I can carry the ball 45 times. I don't take any big hits. I have to thank my offensive line 100 times over. They get me past the big guys. Once I get to the second tier, I can handle them."

Shepherd fans know they have seen something special. They swarmed Wallace after the game to take photos and get autographs. Some gave him gifts. One fan told him "You are the most exciting football player I've seen in years."

Wallace has been on a tear the last three games, rushing for 304, 280 and 311 yards - a total of 897 yards. While most runners are happy with 100 yards in a game, Wallace has raised the bar to 300.

"I don't put a number on my game output," Wallace said. "I play and what I finish with is what I finish with. It all has been happening so fast with the way the season has been winding down and the offensive line has been so dominant."

That's the story of Wallace's career at Shepherd - dominance. Since transferring from West Virginia State for his sophomore season, Wallace is also finding No. 1 next to his name in the school record books. Consider:

· Most yards in a game - 311, breaking the record of 304 he set on Oct. 20 at West Virginia Wesleyan.

· Most touchdowns in a game - 5, breaking the record he shared with nine other players.

· Most touchdowns in a season - 21. It's second best for the Rams, but he set the record with 27 scores last season.

· Most rushing touchdowns in a career - 64, breaking the record held by Damian Beane (1996-99).

· Most touchdowns in a career - 66, breaking the record of 61 held by Beane.

· Most points in a career - 398, breaking the mark of 382 set by Beane.

Beane set his record in four seasons while Wallace re-established the marks in three. Wallace is 144 yards short of tying Beane for most rushing yards in a season with 2,096.

Wallace said during the preseason that anything less than a national championship would be a failure in his eyes. He admits he had a few personal goals - he is a candidate for the Harlon Hill Trophy, Division II's version of the Heisman - but having Shepherd return to the playoffs was tops on the list.

The last drive symbolized it all.

"I wanted to finish with a score," Wallace said. "A player always wants to finish his last run with a score. The one play that sticks out in my mind is that I didn't score on my last play against Wesleyan (a 62-yard run that ended on the 3). I wanted to finish strong."

And with that, Dervon Wallace is tops - No. 1 - on many lists.

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