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SHEPHERDSTOWN — Fairmont will be a familiar foe when Shepherd opens its Mountain East Conference schedule at 1 p.m. on the road Saturday at Duvall-Rosier Field.
Both teams will be 1-0 because Shepherd blanked then-7th-ranked Shippensburg, 33-0, in an effective first-game display of overall defense and a ball control offense that kept the Red Raiders off the Ram Stadium turf for all but 17 minutes of the shutout victory. Fairmont opened at home on Sept. 5 with a 37-29 win over Seton Hill, the same Seton Hill that was in the defunct WVIAC last season.
None of the 11 Mountain East teams played a conference game last week and there will be five league games on Saturday.
Shepherd’s experienced offensive line handled the Shippensburg front as Allen Cross rushed for 106 yards and Jabre Lolley had 95 yards. Quarterback Trae Tinsman, in his first career start, was not sacked and completed 14 passes with touchdowns going to Robert Byrd and Dalton Boyd.
Shippensburg returned 2012 Harlon Hill Trophy selectee Zach Zulli, a quarterback with nearly 4,500 passing yards last year. But Zulli was ineffective against the constant attention he drew from the Rams. He was intercepted twice and had less than 190 passing yards.
The Fighting Falcons forced six turnovers from the Griffins.
But Seton Hill’s 70 passes gave it 305 passing yards and four touchdowns. Fairmont stole three pass interceptions. There were 24 Seton Hill first downs and 399 yards of total offense.
Fairmont gave first-year coach Jason Woodman a win when quarterback Copper Hibbs went 11-for-20 with his passes and had four touchdown throws and one interception.
When starter Shad Alexander was injured, Dawrence Roberts had 25 carries for 104 rushing yards.
After scoring only seven points last week in the 96 degree heat in Norman, West Virginia gets a taste of an elixcir that is sure to be the sweet taste of the Georgia State Blue Panthers.
Georgia State has been beaten by Samford (Alabama), 31-21, and trampled by the Moccasins of Chattanooga, 42-14.
Both of those games were at home in the cavernous Georgia Dome and the winless Blue Panthers will be on the road for the first time.
The Mountaineers eased by William & Mary in Morgantown, 24-17, and then lost a Big 12 game to Oklahoma, 16-7, with Paul Millard at quarterback again.
Heat was the 12th man on the field for both teams, and the game was full of stumbles, mis-timed handoffs, slipshod and ineffective blocking and passing that never helped either side.
The white-uniformed Mountaineers roughed the Oklahoma punter, fumbled away a punt reception and then Millard had the football knocked from his grasp as he attempted to pass all within the space of a few minutes in the clumsy second quarter.
And yet Oklahoma only led, 13-7, at the half.
An Oklahoma field goal was the only scoring in the second half. And West Virginia can take some solace by pointing to its collective defense and saying “Look at the improvement there.”
Georgia State is the last oasis before seeing Maryland at Ravens Stadium in Baltimore on Sept. 21. Maryland’s undaunting schedule has included wins over Florida International University and Old Dominion. On Saturday, the Terps travel to see Connecticut for their first road game of the season.
Oklahoma won. West Virginia lost the Big 12 game.
This Blue Panthers vs. Mountaineers is scheduled to start at noon at Puskar Stadium.
If Georgia State beats the Mountaineers, the WVU alumni will stage an all-out revolt and burn every coach ever seen in stylish Sunnyside.