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Cougars unleash on 'Dogs

October 15, 2005|By MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - If people doubted the credentials of the Jefferson football team before their monster matchup with Martinsburg, they would be hard pressed to knock them after Friday night's game.

The No. 1 Cougars forced six turnovers - converting three into touchdowns - and held the usually explosive Martinsburg offense to just 117 yards as Jefferson scored a convincing 32-0 victory over the No. 2 Bulldogs at Cobourn Field, clinching no worse than a share of the Cumberland Valley Athletic League title in the process.

Ryland Newman carried 16 times for 98 yards and three touchdowns and Josh Brown, who was involved in a scary play early in the fourth quarter, scored twice for the Cougars (8-0, 4-0).

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In a game that featured two of the premier running backs in the area - Newman and Martinsburg's Josh Twyman - the difference was the Jefferson defense.

The Cougars did something Friday that had not been done in over eight years: Shut out Martinsburg. The last time the Bulldogs did not score was Sept. 5, 1997, a 27- 0 loss to Good Counsel.

"This was a game that we really wanted to win," Brown said. "The key was our defense shutting them down. We worked hard defensively all week long."

Their hard work showed from the start. Playing with a swagger seldom seen in a Jefferson squad, the Cougars bottled up Twyman and put pressure on quarterback Cameron Shelton, giving him little time to set up in the pocket.

The Bulldogs (7-1, 2-1) went three-and-out on their first three possessions, giving Jefferson excellent field position on its first three drives.

The Cougars showed some jitters on their first possession as Stephen Gaskins was dropped for a 3-yard loss and Patrick Burns' first pass fell short of his intended target.

Burns attributed some of that nervousness to the large crowd, which was estimated at 6,300.

"We came out and everyone was screaming. No one can hear anything," Burns said. "We just needed some time to settle in and get into the game."

It didn't take much longer. On Jefferson's second drive, Burns was much more crisp, hitting Brendan McLaughlin on a slant over the middle for 12 yards, then just missing Bo Boutcher - who had a step on Jacquin Moore - down the left sideline.

After Gaskins gained 5 yards on a fourth-and-4 play, Burns found Brown in the right corner of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. Brown made the catch over his shoulder despite being faceguarded by D.J. Porter.

On the next drive, Burns showed some speed and power, keeping the ball on an option play and rumbling for a 16-yard gain to the Martinsburg 27. Newman took over from there, weaving his way to the goal line on the next play for a 12-0 lead.

The Bulldogs got their first first down late in the first quarter and appeared to be getting into an offensive flow when Twyman fumbled on a second effort push. The Cougars recovered and five plays later, Newman hit paydirt again.

""What can I say? We came to play tonight. The defense was in top form tonight and the defense did an excellent job of executing the gameplan," Jefferson coach Richard Mills said.

The crushing blow for the Bulldogs, however, came in the second quarter. After forcing a Jefferson punt, Martinsburg embarked on a 17-play drive which ate 6 minuutes, 17 seconds off the clock. But the drive stalled inside the 15-yard line, with Shelton throwing incomplete on third and fourth downs.

"That deflated us a bit, but that was bad coaching on my part. I just didn't do a very good job," Martinsburg coach David Walker said. "Sometimes when things go bad they just kind of steamroll. Jefferson had a lot to do with that tonight, too."

Brown picked off a pass in the third quarter and returned it 27 yards to set up Newman's third touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Brown jumped in front of another Shelton pass. As he caught the ball, a Martinsburg player clipped his feet, sending him spinning through the air.

Brown landed on his neck and shoulders, yet held on to the ball. He stayed down on the field for about two minutes as trainers from both teams attended to him. He walked off the field with assistance.

Not deterred, however, Brown returned later in the quarter and picked up the fourth Martinsburg fumble of the night, returning it 46 yards for a score.

"This was Jefferson-Martinsburg. The only way they could have kept me off the field was if they'd taken my helmet," Brown said.

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