CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Conference football championship will likely be decided Saturday when Shepherd and Glenville State, tied atop the league standings, meet in a noon showdown at Shepherdstown.
The Rams and Pioneers are the only WVC teams with just one conference loss, both standing at 5-1 in WVC games. With just one game left in the regular season after Saturday, the Glenville-Shepherd winner will nail down at least a share of the regular-season title.
Shepherd's inclusion in the championship picture comes as no surprise, as the Rams (6-2 overall) were the No. 1 team in the WVC preseason poll. On the other hand, Glenville (5-4) was picked to finish sixth in the conference in the preseason.
The Pioneers ride a league-best three-game winning streak into Saturday's game, including last week's 14-10 win over the University of Charleston, vaulting Glenville State ahead of UC (7-2, 4-2) in the late-season standings while ending the Golden Eagles' four-game winning streak.
Like UC, Glenville's bread and butter is its running attack, led by freshman tailback Rahmann Lee, who has rushed for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 112.9 yards per game and 6.4 per carry. In last week's home win over UC, Lee rushed for 128 yards.
The Pioneers, though, will be facing NCAA Division II's top-rated defense against the run. Shepherd yields a microscopic 39.1 yards per game and a measly 1.4 yards per carry.
UC can attest to the strength of Shepherd's rush defense. The Golden Eagles, whose ground game ranks No. 1 in the WVC (and 14th nationally) with 233.8 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry, were limited to 47 rushing yards in the loss to the Rams. UC's Jordan Roberts, who ranks ahead of Lee with a WVC-best 1,210 rushing yards (134.4 per game), was held to just 20 yards on 12 carries against Shepherd.
Shepherd defeated Glenville State 37-20 in Glenville in last year's meeting, but the Pioneers have prevailed against the Rams in their last two trips to Shepherdstown, winning 28-24 in 2010 and 21-14 in 2008.