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Blue Devils fall short in defensive struggle

September 23, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - By holding the normally potent Northern football team to just seven points, Greencastle-Antrim had a good reason to think about victory.

The Blue Devils held down its potentially explosive guests, but it was the Polar Bears who put the clamps on Greencastle's offense, posting a 7-0 victory in the Mid-Penn Colonial lidlifter on Friday night.

The Blue Devils were held to 127 total yards - 93 coming on the ground - on a night when Greencastle worked its way across midfield only three times, the deepest time to the Northern 35.

Northern, the two-time reigning Colonial champions, drew first and only blood with an 8-play, 62-yard drive, with scatback Gerald Anderson scoring from 21 yards out. With the extra point, the Polar Bears led just 3:22 into the game.

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"We worked on making adjustments against their horses during practice and we came out on the first drive and didn't make any of them," said Greencastle coach Chuck Tinninis. "After that, we settled down, made the adjustments and tackled.

"But I'm proud of them for their efforts they gave. We didn't have good field position and we were a little limited throwing the football."

A lost fumble by Rusty Cordell on the ensuing kickoff put the Greencastle defense back on the field at its own 32. However, Cordell made quick redemption, intercepting Northern QB Chad Halterman's pass in the end zone three plays later.

"(Coach) gave me some opportunities to make some defensive plays this week," said Cordell, who was switched from safety to outside linebacker and also pounced on a Northern fumble.

Other than a quick three-and-out, Greencastle's offense didn't have much to think about doing until the beginning of the second period.

Starting at their own 15, Greencastle moved to the Northern 40 with the aid of a 15-yard penalty before its drive stalled on a 4th-and-5.

To begin the second half, Cordell took the kickoff on his own 8 and raced to the Greencastle 49. The Blue Devils managed to get to the Northern 35 on six rushing plays before Conrad Myers was thrown for a 4-yard loss, forcing a 4th-and-9 and a Greencastle punt.

The Blue Devils defense dug down deep in the trenches and made a huge goal-line stand, as Myers, Zach Gates and Ty Thrush all converged on Northern's Dane Eichelberger on a fourth down effort from the 1.

After Greencastle relinquished the ball on a three-and-out, Northern had a first down on the Blue Devils 19, but Myers grabbed the ball from the hands of Michael Davies.

Combining two pass completions by Adam Butts - thrust into full-time duty last week against Waynesboro when Adam Ritchey went down with a shoulder injury - and a personal foul on Northern, Greencastle moved across midfield to the 37 as the clock passed 3 minutes to play.

On a 4th-and-4, Myers was caught on a sweep right by Northern's Ryan Stephenson to preserve the Polar Bears' shutout.

"I thought No. 22 (Anderson) was real quick," said Cordell. "I think we were a little too fired up at the start ... a little nervous, and then we decided to tackle. I think we beat them up physically and they knew they escaped out of here."

Aside from the opening drive, Greencastle allowed Northern only 86 yards on the ground on 36 carries.

Ty Thrush had 50 yards rushing on 13 tries for Greencastle, while Myers was held to 26 yards on 16 carries.

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