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Eagles soar to win

October 18, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Chad Grant took the ball, headed right and found every running back's dream - a hole an 18-wheeler could drive through.

It was that kind of first half for Hedgesville.

Grant's 67-yard touchdown run launched the Eagles toward a stunning 26-0 halftime lead, and Hedgesville held off a Musselman squad that kept fighting proudly before falling 33-13 to the Eagles at Mumaw Field on a soggy Friday night.

As Hedgesville's offensive line sealed the Applemen's defense inside, Eagles receiver Andrew Patterson occupied the cornerback as Grant raced between the two and down the right sideline untouched for a 6-0 lead with 7:52 left in the first quarter.

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"(Andrew) stepped right down on the corner, and he must have had him for 20 yards," Eagles coach Dave Lopez said. "The offensive line as a whole did a pretty good job."

Grant's burst was the highlight of his 14-carry, 119-yard evening - 98 coming in the first quarter - and Hedgesville (3-4, 1-2 CVAL) ran for 231 yards on 28 attempts in the first half.

After Musselman (3-5, 1-2) had its next drive stall at the Hedgesville 30-yard line - with Brad Ammons sacking Joey Pletcher for an 8-yard loss on fourth down - the Eagles came back with a 13-play, 62-yard touchdown drive spanning nearly seven minutes of the first and second quarters.

Matt Yurish found Brandon Kerns for 16 yards on fourth-and-9 from the Applemen 27 to keep the drive going, then found Kerns in the back left corner of the end zone on third-and-14 from the Applemen 15.

"We put in a couple wrinkles with the bye week, and we had two possessions where we drove down the field and I think we caught them off guard and it's 13-0," Lopez said.

On Musselman's next possession, Pletcher's 63-yard bootleg down the left sideline gave the Applemen the ball at the Eagles' 17. But the drive stalled when Musselman came up short on a fourth-and-3 run from the Eagles' 10.

Hedgesville fullback Sean Ashton promptly took a handoff 57 yards up the middle, and the Eagles went 91 yards in six plays, with Ashton scoring from 11 yards out.

Kerns' 39-yard punt return with 1:57 left in the half set up Hedgesville's six-play, 31-yard TD drive to close the half. Ashton (16 carries, 144 yards) ran four times for 15 yards before Grant - who has missed several games with a knee injury - scored on a 10-yard run on fourth-and-1 to make it 26-0.

"Musselman, defensively, is a pretty good squad," Lopez said. "It was a big help to have Chad back, he's a big lift, and our fullback stepped in and played well."

Pletcher completed 7 of 13 attempts for 108 yards in the second half, with favorite receiver Kevin Rhodes making three catches for 63 yards - including an 36-yard diving grab at the Eagles 1 of a pass an Eagles cornerback deflected.

Pletcher scored on a 1-yard keeper and Michael Davis added a 2-yard TD run as the Applemen cut the deficit to 26-13 midway through the fourth quarter. Musselman held Hedgesville to 69 yards of total offense in the second half.

"Our kids played well in the second half," Applemen coach Denny Price said. "You've got to play four quarters, though. If you don't, you don't get it done."

Eagles punter Bryce Blair pinned Musselman inside its own 10 twice in the half, and Ashton's 13-yard TD run with less than a minute to play closed the scoring.

"I probably got a little too cautious," Lopez said. "You have a big lead, and you don't want to turn the ball over. ... Bryce hit two beauty punts. We made them have to air it out ... they had to go 90 yards."

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