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Cougars blank Eagles

October 23, 2004|by RYAN ALLEN/Staff Writer

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - The Jefferson Cougars clinched their first winning season in over a decade and moved one step closer to earning their first playoff berth since 1992, amassing 302 rushing yards on a mud-caked field en route to a 29-0 Cumberland Valley Athletic League victory over Hedgesville on Friday.

"It feels real good," Jefferson coach Richard Mills said of his team's clinching a winning record. "The boys worked real hard and they deserve this."

The No. 5 Cougars received the opening kickoff and drove 62 yards, with Will Grantham capping the drive on a 4-yard touchdown run.

Grantham, who rushed for 101 yards on 16 carries, scored his second touchdown of the game with two minutes to go in the half, diving into the right corner of the end zone from 6 yards out to give the Cougars a 15-0 lead. The touchdown was set up by a 35-yard completion from Patrick Burns to Carl Williams on the only pass Jefferson attempted in the half.

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Later in the half, each team had a player ejected after a Jefferson defender tackled Hedgesville running back Sean Ashton well out-of-bounds, igniting a brawl on the Hedgesville sideline that took the officials several minutes to sort out.

Looking for a spark, the Eagles changed their jerseys at halftime, but they were never able to generate a scoring threat.

"The bottom line is they beat us up front," Hedgesville coach Dave Lopez said. "Their line dominated ours on both sides of the ball."

Lopez, while saying that the field conditions were not a factor in the loss, said his team was unable to open up its passing game because of the sloppy surface.

Jefferson attempted only two passes, the second a 10-yard slant for a touchdown from Burns to Brendan McLaughlin on a fourth-down play to extend the lead to 22-0.

Three minutes later, Williams raced 60 yards for a score to put the game out of reach late in the third quarter. Williams also eclipsed the century mark on the ground.

After the game, Williams credited changes in coaching and attitude for the team's surprising turnaround.

"Everyone on the team is playing together now," Williams said.

Lopez also credited Mills for Jefferson's success.

"They've had the athletes," said Lopez. "They needed someone to put them in the right spot and (Mills) has done that. They've simplified things this year and they're more settled in what they do."

The Cougars improved to 6-3, 2-3 and have an off week before their season finale against Waynesboro. They entered the weekend in 12th place in the Class AAA playoff ratings. The top 16 teams qualify for the playoffs.

"I told the team the postseason was on their own shoulders," said Mills. "I don't know if 6-4 will be good enough to make the playoffs, so we don't want to take that chance."

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