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Nitro's Culbertson shreds Applemen 'D'

August 27, 2005|By TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

INWOOD, W.Va. - Nitro's Josh Culbertson has led West Virginia's Class AAA schools in rushing the past two seasons. If Friday night is an indication, he'll do it again in 2005 as he states his case for the Kennedy Award.

Culbertson, who needs 1,912 yards this season to become the state's career rushing leader, knocked off 339 yards from that total as he led the Wildcats to a 46-21 victory over Musselman at Waldeck Field.

At 5-foot-9 and 192 pounds, the stocky Culbertson bulldozed his way through Musselman defenders up the middle and around end and scored five touchdowns on runs of 66, 9, 3, 23 and 28 yards.

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"Supposedly (Culbertson) runs a 4.4 40," said Musselman coach Denny Price. "He's got great balance."

After each team traded scoreless possessions in the first period, Culbertson broke a tackle over right end and rambled 66 yards with 3:06 left.

On Musselman's ensuing possession, quarterback Ethan French lost the football on a rollout to the right and Mark Massey picked it up and ran 45 yards for a Nitro score, suddenly putting the Applemen in a 14-0 hole.

Culbertson struck late in the second period on a 9-yard run with 1:58 left that capped an 87-yard drive and gave Nitro a commanding 20-0 lead at halftime.

However, Musselman came out in the second half and performed admirably, which made Price happy.

"We were ready to play but it's tough getting down early," he said. "We took their best shot and (Nitro) has great athletes."

Musselman posted 177 of its 278 yards rushing in the second half behind the efforts of Rusty Riner, Shon Jackson and Trevor Herbert.

Down 26-0 after a 33-yard TD run by Culbertson, Musselman put together a 67-yard drive and recorded its first score of the year at the 4:56 mark of the third period when Herbert scored from 1 yard out.

Culbertson bridged the third and fourth periods with two more scores, in between which Musselman put together a 63-yard drive highlighted by a 34-yard gallop by Riner and finished by Jacksn's 1-yard plunge.

With less than one minute remaining, the Applemen scored when French rolled in from eight yards on a QB keeper.

"(Nitro) came out with an unconventional defense," said Price. "You practice for the usual defense and they come out with a 3-3 playing well off the line. We ran the ball well once we got used to their defense."

Riner led Musselman with 79 yards on 15 carries while Jackson added 78 on 11 tries and Herbert 76 on 13 attempts. The Applemen had 17 first downs.

"We're excited about this year and that excitement won't escape," said Price. "People shouldn't judge us on this one game."

Nitro's second candidate for the Kennedy Award, wide receiver Chris Fulmer, caught seven passes for 92 yards. He hauled in a state-record 99 passes last year and needs 59 this season to establish a new national prep record.

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