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Blue Devils keep Cougars off board

October 28, 2006|by MARK KELLER

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - Greencastle-Antrim gained just 21 yards in the second half of Friday night's football game at Jefferson.

But one sequence of events in the fourth quarter erased all of the offensive woes for the No. 2 Blue Devils and put the No. 3 Cougars in a hole they could not climb out of as Greencastle posted a 17-0 shutout at Cougar Stadium.

Pinned at the 4-yard line and nursing a 14-0 lead, Greencastle punter Jon Zook booted a kick that soared over the head of Jefferson's return man and rolled to a stop at the Cougars 30.

As if the 66-yard kick were not enough, the Cougars had a 15-yard personal foul penalty tacked on, moving the ball all the way back to the Jefferson 15 with 6 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the game.

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The Cougars (5-4) fumbled on first down, but recovered for a 12-yard loss. On second down, Jonathan Hash completed a swing pass to Dewey McDonald, who picked up seven yards before coughing up the ball. Greencastle's Jesse Lenharr recovered at the 12-yard line, just before the ball bounced out of bounds.

The Blue Devils (7-2) lost three yards in three plays before settling for a 32-yard field goal by Brad Kershner, his first of the season, and the 17-0 lead with 3:00 left.

"That was kind of the dagger in them," Greencastle coach Chuck Tinninis said of the three-minute sequence. "I think the turning point of the game was in the first half when we were able to move the ball a little bit and get some first downs."

The teams combined for just 257 yards offensively and neither team topped 100 yards on the ground, which may have been more a testament to the two defenses than field or weather conditions.

Greencastle came into the game as the area's top defense, allowing just 10.3 points per game. Jefferson was second at 12.1 points per game.

"We knew it was going to be tough to move the ball against their defense," Jefferson coach Richard Mills said. "We wanted to work the ball inside but they really controlled the line."

Of course, the driving rain and gusting winds that were present throughout the game didn't help matters for either team. The field between the hash marks deteriorated into a mud bog by halftime.

By then, the Blue Devils already had a 14-0 lead on a pair of touchdowns scored less than three minutes apart.

Greencastle's second drive of the game started at its own 43. A pair of quarterback keepers by Adam Ritchey helped move the ball into Jefferson territory, then Ritchey hit Conrad Myers on a timing pattern down the left sideline for a 24-yard gain to the 15.

Three plays later, Ritchey connected with Jared Tinninis on a similar pattern. Tinninis caught the ball at the 2, then turned and lunged across the goal line for a 7-0 lead.

The Cougars went three and out on their next possession and punted from their own 36. Dustin Barry took the kick at the Greencastle 33 and slipped out of one tackle before zig-zagging his way to a 67-yard touchdown and a 14-0 Blue Devils lead.

Notes:The shutout was Greencastle's first since a 58-0 victory over Fairfield on Sept. 5, 2003. The Blue Devils' points against average dropped to 9.1 for the year.

· Jefferson was shut out on its home field for the first time since a 27-0 loss to Potomac Falls on Sept. 12, 2003.

· The win puts the Blue Devils in good position to earn a District 3-AAA playoff berth. A victory over West Perry next week would assure them a spot in the postseason. "We're pretty sure we get in with seven wins," Chuck Tinninis said.

· The Cougars' hopes rest completely on their matchup with No. 1 Martinsburg next week. A loss eliminates Jefferson, while a win should get the Cougars into the top 16. "We're going to face it like any other game," Mills said. "If you look at it any other way, you get pressure."

· This was the first meeting between the two schools and Tinninis seemed to enjoy it. "I'm excited about playing Jefferson. It's great for the Tri-State area and they have a great program.

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