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Unbeaten Mercersburg knocks off perrenial power Hun

September 25, 2005|By TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa.

Any win is big and, in some cases, considered huge.

For Mercersburg Academy, Saturday afternoon's 9-3 victory over Hun School was not only huge, but it came with a sledgehammer knocking a monkey off Mercersburg's back.

It also gave the No. 6 Blue Storm their fourth straight win to start the season and, more important, a win over a perennial power in their Mid-Atlantic Prep League opener.

"This win is huge for our football program," soaked Mercersburg coach Dan Walker said. "To know that we could knock off a team of this caliber is so big."

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Mercersburg exacted some revenge for the 41-7 pasting by Hun last year and beat the Raiders for the first time since 2001.

"Now, we have to come back next week and be ready to play," said Walker, who will lead his troops on the road against a strong Lawrenceville (N.J.) unit. "I think we'll be a hunted team now ... and I am OK with that."

It also didn't hurt the Blue Storm that Hun's Myron Rolle, one of the top recruits in the nation who has signed on at Florida State, pulled a right quadricep muscle on the Raiders' second offensive possession and never returned to the offensive unit. He did see action at safety, but was largely ineffective.

"Even when he was in there, we were ready for him and we stopped him," said Walker. "Missing him was a big influence on their plays."

Rolle carried three times for 10 yards before his injury.

The Blue Storm scored the day's lone touchdown on their first possession of the game with a nifty four-play, 65-yard drive, aided by two 5-yard penalties on the Raiders.

Quarterback Tyler Newberry hit Zach Hart on a 12-yard pass and David Ashton on a 22-yarder, and after two flags, the Blue Storm were on the Hun 21.

From there, Jarvis Hodge picked up 7 and then from the 14, took a pitchout from Newberry on the right side, had no room to run, reversed his direction and eventually turned left and found paydirt.

Hodge, who gained 143 yards on 21 carries, credited the offensive line on his score and overall performance.

"I was missing some cuts into holes and they kept coming to me and telling me where to go," said Ashton. "They did a great job of blocking."

Mercersburg's Neil Gordon hauled in an interception when Hun was on the move, and the Blue Storm immediately responded when Newberry targeted Ashton with a 34-yard completion to the Raiders 12 with 1:24 left in the first half.

Three ineffective plays left Mercersburg facing a field goal opportunity, the first it would attempt this season.

Senior Felix Alonso-Valenteen, who hails from Mercersburg, put the Blue Storm up 9-0 with a 28-yard boot.

"Man, I was nervous a little," said Alonso-Valenteen, who had played soccer prior to this season and had never been in a football uniform. "(The kick) was right down the middle."

Hun (1-1) came right back as a 36-yard pass from Turner Wimberly to Stephen Diverio put the Raiders in field goal position, and Scott Demler drilled home a 45-yarder as the clock expired.

Mercersburg closed in on two scoring opportunities in the second half but, Newberry threw an interception and a lateral to Ashton was controlled by Hun.

However, the Mercersburg defense came up with stellar efforts, including a broken-up pass by Hodge in the third period and Ashton's crushing tackle of Wimberly which forced a fumble that the Blue Storm covered to halt a Hun march late in the third.

The final defensive stand came at the end when Hun showed signs of a late rally as it reached the Blue Storm 27. But Wimberly couldn't capitalize, throwing four straight incompletions.

Hodge also threw a 45-yard halfback completion to Ashton, one of the five passes he caught. Newberry was 13 of 22. Overall, the Blue Storm had 292 total yards and Hun had 199.

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