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JB plays tough, but Devils prevail

September 03, 2005|By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa.


Look closely, there isn't any one named Katy on the Greencastle-Antrim roster.

Too bad, the Blue Devils needed everyone possible to bar the door when things were going badly to pull out the victory.

"Adversity was pounding on our door and the kids stepped up," Greencastle coach Chuck Tinninis said.

The Blue Devils outlasted two cases of leg cramps and an injury to quarterback Travis Smith and got the best out of their reserves to hold off an inspired James Buchanan team for a 20-12 victory in the season opener for both teams at Kaley Field.

Greencastle needed a yeoman effort by the second-string backfield as Brett Thrush scored on a 4-yard run with 1:32 remaining to ice the victory.

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It was a huge performance for James Buchanan, which won two games last season, but suffered all its losses by at least 20 points.

"We had our opportunities, but we couldn't convert to win," the Rockets' morally satisfied coach Kevin Gustafson said. "I'm not upset with our effort."

Nor should he be.

JB spotted Greencastle two touchdown runs of 40-plus yards by Ty Thrush in the first half and battled back to climb within 14-12 with 11:11 remaining on a pair of Rusty Hughes touchdowns.

The Rockets found an opening on the left side of Greencastle's defensive line and turned the game into a ball-control battle. The Blue Devils were happy to hang and punch it out with the Rockets because of the three maladies on the roster. Greencastle outgained JB 75-63 in the second half.

"What happened was (tailback) Conrad Myers started to cramp up and so did Ty," Tinninis said. "Then on the second play of the game, (Smith) took a shot in the jaw and was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

"On that last drive, we had our second backfield in. Brett Thrush was working as our tight end but we moved him over to tailback when we needed him. And Adam Butts stepped in at quarterback. It's a lot different knowing the plays and using them."

Greencastle found openings around the ends on JB's defense as Ty Thrush stutter-stepped enough to allow the Blue Devils' defense get the blocks and spring him.

Ty Thrush capped a 6-play drive with a 44-yard burst, starting off tackle before bouncing outside, with 1:52 remaining in the first quarter. He added a 47-yard burst on a sweep around left end at the 10:56 mark of the second quarter. Adam Wiestling added both extra points.

But James Buchanan made a few on-field adjustments, forcing Greencastle to cut back many of its sweeps while the offense started pounding up the middle.

The Rockets clicked off a 12-play, 61-yard drive which took 6:07 as quarterback Justin Lee hit Hughes on a 5-yard pass for the score with :30 remaining in the half to make it 14-6.

"I think a lot of it was that we were wearing them down," Gustafson said. "I think we are in better condition than they are. That is going to help us as the season goes on."

After a scoreless third quarter, JB scored on the second play of the fourth after an interception by Brian Wagner. Hughes bulled over left tackle and charged to the end zone on a 23-yard run.

JB went for the two-point conversion but Zach Heinbaugh ran down Lee from behind to scuttle the attempt.

"Heinbacugh came through with a big play," Tinninis said.

The two teams slugged it out in the middle of the field the rest of the game until JB fell victim to its own 6-yard punt to put Greencastle in position to end the game. Michael Reid helped Brett Thrush grind down to the goal line, ending the final 31-yard drive with the 4-yard score. The kick failed, leaving JB with the chance.

The Rockets could only move the ball 6 yards on four pass plays in their final attempt.

"I'm proud of these guys," Gustafson said. "They worked their butts off in practice and they worked their butts off in the game. I can't fault their effort."

Ty Thrush finished with 99 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns. Myers added 71 yards, all in the first half, for Greencastle, which held a 245-136 edge in yardage. Hughes had 11 carries for 43 yards and caught the scoring pass.

"What was killing us was we would get penalties when we were getting the momentum," Tinninis said. "This is the best JB team I've seen in years and I wish them a lot of success. The kids rose to the occasion when they had to."

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