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Musselman notches win over Jefferson

October 07, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - Brandon Caton rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns as Musselman built two 19-point leads early in the second half, then held off a furious Jefferson rally for a 45-33 win - the Applemen's first this season - Friday night.

"We're used to winning here, and when you're 0-5, it's pretty easy to see how the kids can get discouraged," Musselman coach Denny Price said. "There are kids that came up big on both sides of the ball tonight."

Behind the passing of Codie Gustines (10-for-19, 180 yards, three touchdowns), Jefferson (1-5, 0-1 Cumberland Valley Athletic League) rallied to close to within five, 38-33, on J.T. DeSarno's 10-yard touchdown catch and Dustin Sours' two-point conversion catch with 5 minutes, 22 seconds left in the game.

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But sophomore quarterback Joey Pletcher used his legs to convert two first downs on third down plays - the second a 43-yard run down to the Jefferson 8 with 2:30 left, giving Musselman (1-5, 1-1) first-and-goal.

Caton carried for gains of 2, 1 and 3 yards, setting up fourth-and-goal at the Jefferson 2 with 1:57 left. The Applemen went for it, and Caton powered through the middle for the game's final touchdown.

"We knew if we ... scored, it would put the nail in the coffin," Caton said. "They gave me the ball and I pounded it in."

"We've been close (before), and then we do things that keep us from winning," Price said. "Tonight, we take the lead, they come back, we take the lead, they come back. But we found a way to win."

Jefferson was hurt by numerous mistakes and turnovers in the first half. The Cougars fumbled the opening kickoff away - one of four fumbles for Jefferson in the half, three which the Cougars lost - leading to Trey Belmont's 8-yard touchdown run with 8:22 left in the quarter. Pletcher's 1-yard sneak four minutes later gave the Applemen a quick 14-0 edge.

"We got ourselves in a hole early, and that hurt," Jefferson coach Jay Kirby said. "We couldn't quite get out of it. We were playing catch-up all night."

Gustines and junior receiver Jeremy Maley were in sync most of the night. Maley caught nine passes for 170 yards, including touchdowns of 22 and 35 yards in the first half. Maley's second score narrowed Musselman's lead to 17-12 with 4:22 to play in the half.

But the Applemen drove 70 yards over the final four minutes, going up 24-12 with 10 seconds remaining in the half on Belmont's 1-yard run.

Caton's 30-yard touchdown run 28 seconds into the second half increased the lead to 31-12, and after Gustines' 2-yard run cut the lead to 31-19, Josh Stroop broke free for a 60-yard touchdown with 5:09 left in the third quarter for a 38-19 lead.

Stroop was later injured as he punted with 8:49 to go in the game. Stroop was motionless on the field for several minutes before being put on a backboard and placed in an ambulance.

"I can't speak on the situation," Price said. "I don't know what his condition is. I pray that he's OK."

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