Applemen fall in final seconds

November 16, 1996


Staff Writer

INWOOD, W.Va. - Friday night, in the sanctity of a locker room decorated with 20 years of Musselman football success, this year's Applemen dealt with a defeat more bone-chilling than sub-zero weather.

The excitement of Musselman's heroic 14-point, fourth-quarter rally disappeared in the time it took Flynn Wurtzbacher's 28-yard field goal to sail between the goalposts.

The kick, with seven seconds left, gave Morgantown a 24-21 victory over the Applemen in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs.


Musselman, the defending Class AA champion, was making its first playoff appearance in Class AAA.

The Applemen (9-2) rode an emotional roller coaster that few athletes will ever experience. They scored two touchdowns in the span of a minute and 44 seconds, helped by a recovered onsides kick, to draw even in the fourth quarter.

But Morgantown (7-4) got the ball back with 2:18 left for a final drive. Zach Travinski completed a pair of crucial third-down passes. A personal foul penalty on Musselman helped the Mohigans move the ball to the Applemen 11, setting up the game-winning kick.

Afterward, the Applemen sat in silence in front of their lockers. Some cried. Some looked angry. Some just stared blankly. The defensive linemen gathered for one last huddled, which turned into a long embrace.

Senior J.R. Rush, a wide receiver and defensive back, just leaned against a trash can, staring at his hands.

"The last couple of minutes, we had life," said running back Denero Marriott, his eyes swollen from tears. "It was great. We had a chance, then "

"It's not just a game, it was our last game," said senior Tyler Frye, who sparked Musselman's late rally.

Morgantown built a 21-7 lead behind the strong running of West Virginia University-bound Josh McMillen. Musselman, playing without injured star lineman Kelvin Jones, had trouble moving on offense.

The Applemen looked doomed after two failed drives to open the fourth quarter. But after a strong defensive stand led to a punt, Musselman took possession at its 15 with 4:30 left in the game. Quarterback Matt Price, who struggled through the second half, hit a wide-open Frye over the middle and the speedster outran Morgantown's defense. Rush's extra point made it 21-14 with 4:07 left.

Musselman bull-rushed the onsides kickoff, with 10 players lined up behind the kicker. The Applemen recovered the loose ball at Morgantown's 33.

Five plays later, Frye broke a counter trap handoff for an 11-yard score. Rush's PAT tied the score, and it appeared the game was heading into overtime.

Musselman had scored on its first possession of the game, when Marriott broke a 12-yard run.

Morgantown countered quickly, with a 1-yard plunge by McMillen capping the ensuing drive.

The Mohigans took the lead in the second quarter on Chris Yura's 22-yard run. Morgantown scored one more time in the second quarter, when McMillen found a seam and went 79 yards.

McMillen finished with 192 yards in 20 carries, despite being limited in the second half by a mild concussion.

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