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Indians with fifth

October 04, 2003|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - The very thought of Berkeley Springs' big-play offense coming to town was keeping Hancock football coach Bill Sterner awake at night.

"I lost sleep over it. I was talking to my wife about it at dinner time. I talked to my coaches," Sterner said. "I talked to my dog."

As it turned out, Sterner's worries were valid. The Indians burned Hancock for two big plays on their way to a 13-0 victory over the Panthers on Friday.

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"They're a big-play team. That's what I was afraid of and that's where they got us," Sterner said.

The Indians (5-1) played most of the game without running back Matt Mason, the leading rusher in the Tri-State area. Mason carried the ball three times for minus-3 yards early in the first quarter, but did not return to the field after apparently tweaking an injury during the Indians' second possession.

Berkeley Springs instead turned to quarterback Matt Weaver, who hit on just one of his first four passes.

"We knew this would be a little different game (with Mason out)," Berkeley Springs coach Angelo Luvara said. "We told the kids it would be a different situation and that they'd have to play their butts off."

The Indians caught a break on their second possesion. On third-and-9, Weaver dropped back to pass and found Tony Belt, who was wide open after defender Justin Unger slipped while making a cut. Belt hauled in the pass for a 32-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead after the PAT.

Unger did later get his revenge, picking off Weaver two times.

Unger's first interception gave the Panthers (3-2) the ball inside Indians territory, but Hancock never quite got its running game untracked. They gained 70 yards but managed only three first downs in the first half as the Indians keyed on running backs Jordan Sterner and Josh Ruppenthal.

"Their backs are bigger than some of our linemen," Luvara said. "I thought the defense played very well tonight against the run."

With Mason out of the lineup, Hancock's defense also fared well against the run. The Indians finished with just 91 yards on the ground, by far their lowest output of the season.

Obviously not comfortable with only a seven-point lead at halftime, the Indians came out firing after taking the second-half kickoff. On the first play from scrimmage, Weaver hit a streaking Matt Rockwell for a 65-yard touchdown pass. The conversion failed, leaving Berkeley Springs with a 13-0 lead.

Weaver was 7-for-20 for 218 yards. Rockwell had five catches for 145 yards.

The Panthers never did mount a serious scoring threat. They began five drives inside Berkeley Springs territory - three from the 30-yard-line in - but never moved inside the Indians 20.

"When you get behind, the power-I offense isn't the offense to be running," Bill Sterner said. "We had some opportunities, but couldn't do anything with them. Give their defense credit for that.

"But I'll say this. We showed guts and determination and played tough tonight. I'm proud of the way they played tonight."

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