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Applemen's victory has French flavor

October 16, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

INWOOD, W.Va. - After four road games, Musselman returned to its home turf with a freshman quarterback, not the typical recipe for success.

But Ethan French directed a Musselman offense that put up 330 yards and displaced quarterback Michael Marsh was part of a defensive unit that limited Hedgesville to 84 total yards as the Applemen beat Hedgesville 33-0 Friday in a Cumberland Valley Athletic League contest, ending a three-game losing streak.

"We made a decision to bring Ethan up from the freshman team and he was practicing with the varsity on Monday," Musselman coach Denny Price said. "We've got a lot of unselfish players on this team and Michael is one of them."

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French got plenty of "firsts" in his debut, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Joey Pletcher with 42 seconds remaining in the first period that gave the Applemen a 14-0 lead.

Out of the lockers to start the third period with a 23-0 advantage, French concluded a masterful 17-play, 77-yard drive with a 5-yard run for his first varsity touchdown. The drive, all on the ground except for a 15-yard pass from French to Marsh on a fourth-down play, kept Hedgesville's offense on the sidelines for nearly 11 minutes.

"Coach told my Mom and Dad that I was being brought up and they told me," French said. "I had been nervous in games before, but I really wasn't for this game. It was an honor to be moved up. I'm happy and satisfied."

Price said French "has plenty of promise with a strong arm and he makes good decisions. He even called an audible and he showed alot of poise."

Senior D.J. Stephenson, who normally carries the football about 15 times per game, got the call 26 times and responded with 147 yards, including a 2-yard score four minutes into the game.

"It feels great to get back home," said Stephenson. "The offensive line was did great and the belly series worked great."

Stephenson's score was set up when Kevin Rhodes blocked a punt to give Musselman (3-4, 1-2) possession at the Eagles' 18.

Musselman's defense blocked three punts overall, including one that was sent by Stephen Sowers out of the end zone for a safety and a 23-0 lead at the 1:26 mark of the second period.

Earlier in the second period, Derek Espeland pounced on a Hedgesville fumble that set up a 10-yard score by Rusty Riner.

Hedgesville (1-7, 0-3) had its offense on the field for only 13 minutes, due mostly to three turnovers in the second period that left Musselman with short-field opportunities.

"We knew they would run the ball and we didn't and we can't afford to give a team like them a short field," said Hedgesville coach Dave Lopez. "We were a young team but by now they aren't young. I've told them they need to grow up and be players."

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