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Cougars overcome turnovers, Eagles

October 25, 2003|by CURT HORNBECKER

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - What Jefferson did Friday night was the same thing it did in its seven losses this season: Turn the football over.

So, it's obviously Hedgesville's fault that the Cougars won only their second game of the season, 27-14. The Eagles simply didn't take advantage of Jefferson's errors.

"We had some turnovers, but we didn't have the turnovers at critical times," said Cougars coach Donnie Tucker. "We were able to overcome our turnovers tonight."

A prime example came in the fourth period when trailing by the eventual final score, Hedgesville (3-5) recovered a fumble at the Jefferson 19. With a first down at the 5, Eagles tailback Chad Grant ran the ball up the middle, and coughed it up near the goal line, giving the ball back to the Cougars on the 1.

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Hedgesville coach Dave Lopez felt like Grant may have crossed the goal line, but the official disagreed.

"All I know is they came up saying our ball," said Tucker. "I'll take that sign anytime."

Jefferson's big-play offense kept the Eagles defense off balance all night, mixing the rushes of Will Grantham (20 carries, 153 yards) with Codie Gustines'passing (180 yards). Eight plays went for at least 20 yards for the Cougars (2-7).

"Their speed took over," said Lopez. "They have good athletes, and we didn't do a very good job tackling."

The Cougars' defense took over in the second half, holding Hedgesville to just three rushing yards and 29 through the air.

Spurred by a 36-yard jaunt from Grant, the Eagles took a 7-0 lead when Derek Young ran for 11 yards only to fumble into the endzone for Sean Ashton to recover for the score.

But Grantham wasted no time retaliating, running 70 yards for the tying TD.

The Eagles responded with a 70-yard, nine-play march with Ashton slashing in from the three.

Scoring runs of 11 yards by Gustines and 21 by Grantham gave Jefferson a 19-14 halftime edge before Gustines scored the final TD of the game on a 13-yard jaunt midway through the third quarter.

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