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'Dogs don't roll over for Cougars

October 16, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - For every big play No. 5 Jefferson made to throw a second-half scare into No. 2 Martinsburg, the Bulldogs found an answer and left the Cougars' upset dreams unfulfilled.

Josh Twyman rushed for 185 yards and two scores, while Nate Sowers tucked the ball in for 106 yards and two rushing strikes and passed for 112 yards and another score as Martinsburg held off the challenge of a determined Jefferson squad for a 35-21 victory on Friday night in a battle of Eastern Panhandle powers.

"Against great teams like them, you have to make big plays," Sowers said after a whirlwind final 24 minutes. "I tip my hat to them, they played a great game."

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"Both teams kept battling 'til the very end," Martinsburg coach Dave Walker said. "We've been through a lot the last three weeks on the road, three tough games, and we've been through some adversity. The kids have been through it before and they battled back."

Martinsburg (7-1, 3-0) thoroughly dominated the sluggish Cougars (5-3, 1-3) in the first half, holding Jefferson to 62 total yards.

Behind Sowers' first-quarter, 38-yard touchdown run - coming up the middle after a stellar ball fake to Twyman - and Twyman's 14-yard TD around the right side in the second quarter, the Bulldogs claimed a 14-0 halftime lead.

"We were a little bit flat in the first half," Jefferson coach Richard Mills said. "In the second half, we stepped up and showed we belonged on the same field."

Jefferson needed all of 13 seconds to send its home crowd into a frenzy. After the second-half kickoff briefly bounced away from Carl Williams, he picked it up, faked a reverse to Will Grantham and hit a seam up the right sideline, going untouched for an electrifying 92-yard touchdown.

"That got us started," Mills said. "It did give us a little spirit, a little energy."

"We always say special teams can change things quicker than anything else," Sowers said. "We knew Jefferson would never go away, they never do. That was a big momentum swing, and we made some plays to get the momentum back."

After Jefferson's bid to tie the game on its next drive stalled at Martinsburg's 20-yard-line, the Bulldogs went 80 yards in seven plays, the big one a 56-yard catch-and-run by Jacquin Moore, who on third-and-15 caught a pass in the flat, broke a tackle and raced up the right sideline down to the Jefferson 32.

Aaron Stokes added a 15-yard catch down to the Jefferson 14, then on the next play made a catch over the middle at the 10, spun twice to break tackles and broke several more in powering into the end zone for a 21-7 lead.

Jefferson cut the lead to 21-14 on quarterback Patrick Burns' 1-yard sneak with 8:22 left in the game. Martinsburg answered with a four-play, 80-yard drive in which Twyman broke a 63-yard run on third-and-1 to the Jefferson 7, then scored on the next play to make it 28-14.

The Cougars cut it to seven points again on their next drive when Burns hit Bo Boutcher on a slant for an 11-yard touchdown.

After forcing a Martinsburg three-and-out, Jefferson got the ball back at its own 25 with 4:04 to play. On the second play of the drive, Will Grantham caught a pass in the left flat for four yards and reached out with the ball in his right hand to try to get more. It appeared the ground knocked the ball loose, but the officials ruled a fumble and Martinsburg recovered at the Jefferson 29.

Three plays later, Sowers hit a hole on the right side for a 28-yard touchdown for the final margin. The Bulldogs then surprised Jefferson with an onside kick - the second one Martinsburg recovered in the second half - and ran out the clock.

"A few things went against us and we couldn't recover," Mills said. "They were in there in the trenches fighting, and I'm proud of them."

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