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Shepherd Rams fare well with Sutch at the wheel

November 26, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Jimmy Sutch was living a college freshman's dream.

It was a Saturday in late autumn. He was hanging out with the guys and he was in the driver's seat.

In a twist of fate, the Shepherd University tailback had the keys to teammate Dervon Wallace's car - better known as the Rams' running game, fueled by a dominant offensive line - and went out for a late spin.

After 22 minutes of driving, Sutch pulled the Rams safely into the garage after cruising for 117 yards rushing and three touchdowns as Shepherd put a 41-34 NCAA Division II Northeast Region victory over the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the trunk before a packed house at Ram Stadium.

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"(Wallace) has a nice car," Sutch said to laughs after his breakout performance. "Getting out there was a much bigger deal than before."

Shepherd was driving behind the high-speed bursts of Wallace, who ran for 127 of his 135 yards and touchdowns of 70 and 2 yards in the first half, to build a 20-13 lead.

But in the process, Wallace began to suffer leg cramps.

"I came out after halftime and I felt good," Wallace said. "I drank a couple bottles of Gatorade because I had some minor cramps. Then, when I was stretching, I said 'Oh-oh.' I started cramping. It started cramping more every time I took a step."

After Indiana tied the score with the opening kickoff of the second half, Wallace ran Shepherd's first play of the second half and left the field. Vincent Riggs took over until Wallace gave it one more try with 8 minutes left in the quarter, but it was done.

The Rams put Sutch, a true freshman from St. James, at the wheel.

"Jimmy has played and it's not like he hasn't been in the end zone before," said Shepherd coach Monte Cater. "Usually with young guys, we worry about the protection, but we didn't worry about it for long. He has a feel for it."

And the feel was evident immediately.

Sutch took his first carry off left tackle and bounced to the sideline for a 27-yard touchdown run for a 27-20 lead.

"I knew it was a big game, but I figured I would get a couple of carries," Sutch said. "But when Dervon got hurt, I got more."

Sutch was a change-of-pace style runner for the Rams.

Wallace gives all the credit for his success for his career 4,776 rushing yards and 66 touchdowns to his offensive line, but he uses patience and waterbug-like speed to skitter upfield.

Sutch is a little more straight forward, running hard at the holes as they open. He had 198 yards and two touchdowns before Saturday.

Sutch ran for Shepherd's last two scores on runs of 5 and 20 yards to keep the Rams safely ahead of the Crimson Hawks and seal the victory. Shepherd advances to face California (Pa.) on Saturday for the region title and a trip to the Division II Final Four.

"I just wanted to fill (Wallace's) shoes," Sutch said.

"You did it," Wallace said.

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