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Cougars pass University test

September 25, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - Tradition, history, disciplined play. Those are the principles the University High football program is built on.

On Friday, Jefferson busted through like the hurricane du jour and blew the perennial powerhouse from Morgantown off its very foundation.

The No. 6 Cougars continued their revitalization program, playing hard and fast while making two first-half touchdowns off big running plays stand up to notch a 14-7 victory, almost announcing to West Virginia's Class AAA scene that they have arrived.

"Those guys over there believed they would win," University coach John Kelley said. "Our guys hoped they would win. Jefferson played with more emotion and were being more physical than us. That's what it's all about. Our kids were playing on history."

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Running back Will Grantham ignited the Cougars (4-1) with 120 yards and a touchdown while sophomore Ryland Newman spelled Grantham and set up the other score with a key 34-yard sweep in the second quarter as Jefferson took a 14-0 halftime lead.

"You beat University, it's (darn) big," Jefferson coach Richard Mills said. "If you get by them, you've done something. We are just learning to win. Do we believe? I hope. We are trying to turn that corner."

On Friday, the corner was around the ends of University's defense and Jefferson's speed left the Hawks reeling in the first half.

Grantham got the first score with a sweep down the left sideline by breaking a couple of University tackle attempts for 43 of his 92 first-half yards and a 7-0 lead.

"I told my guys all week that we have to limit Grantham's yards after the initial hit," Kelley said. "What did he get? ... It was like 100 yards after he was hit."

Jefferson used Grantham to challenge the Hawks defense.

"We had to (use Grantham) until they stopped him," Mills said. "Then we got Ryland in there. ... He's the heir apparent to the job if he keeps his head about him."

University stopped Grantham momentarily in the second quarter with a big hit which forced him from the game. Newman entered and took a sweep around right end for 34 yards on his first play to get the Cougars deep to the University 4.

Three plays later, quarterback Patrick Burns found tight end Brendan McLaughlin on a curl pass just over the goal line for the second touchdown with 7:27 remaining in the half. Sam Moore's extra point gave the Cougars a 14-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Jefferson's defense was controlling University's wide-open attack. The Cougars put the wraps on quarterback Justin Hostetler, the son of University assistant coach and former NFL quarterback Jeff Hostetler, while the ground game was dormant.

University ran just 23 plays in the first half, thanks to just four first downs and 85 yards of offense.

"You can't stop anyone if you can't get the offense on the field," Kelley said.

Jefferson went to a more conservative attack in the second, milking the clock and protecting the ball. The Cougars had just one first down and 83 yards of offense in the second half.

University got on the board with five seconds remaining in the third quarter when Hostetler hit Robbie Guzik on a 9-yard pass to finish a 10-play drive which was prolonged when the Cougars roughed the punter.

From there, it became a battle of three-and-out drives for both teams.

"When they scored, we were always concerned," Mills said. "They are a solid club with tradition. This has been a difficult stretch for the kids, but they have been through it together. We are taking a positive approach to the program and trying to keep all the negatives away."

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