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Devils seize the momentum

September 01, 2007|By MARK KELLER

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Momentum is a precious thing in high school football.

Most nights.

For about the first 30 minutes of Friday's season opener between Greencastle-Antrim and rival James Buchanan, it seemed neither team wanted momentum on its side. In fact, both teams were doing their best to give it away.

Finally, midway through the third quarter, Greencastle's Rusty Cordell said, "I'll take it."

Cordell picked off a pass from Jesse Smartt at the JB 12-yard line, setting up a Dustin Barry touchdown that gave the Blue Devils a two-score lead and a firm grip on the ever-shifting momentum as Greencastle went on to beat the Rockets, 37-12.

The teams combined for eight fumbles in the first half alone, with each side losing three.

Cordell's interception came just three plays after JB stuffed a long Greencastle drive and took over on downs at its own 2.

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Trailing 14-6, Smartt gained 8 yards on a keeper before Tucker Hill lost a yard on second down.

On third down, Smartt dropped back and threw a pop pass intended for Tyson Keith. Cordell jumped the route, stepping right in front of Keith to make the pick at the 12.

"It was real important. I think it swung the momentum completely back our way," Cordell said. "There was a little sense of urgency."

It took just two plays for Barry to make the turnover hurt, picking up 5 yards up the middle on first down and going 7 yards to the right for the score. Cordell added the two-point conversion to give the Blue Devils a 22-6 lead.

"They might have been able to get something going if we hadn't come right back with the pick," Greencastle coach Chuck Tinninis said.

The Blue Devils defense forced JB to punt on its next two possessions and Barry and Paul Peer - with some help from Cordell and quarterback Adam Ritchey - chewed up the Rockets on the ground.

Greencastle gained 140 yards in 14 plays - a tidy 10-yards-per-carry average - on its two possessions, both capped by Peer touchdown runs. Peer finished with 94 rushing yards, while Barry had 162 yards and two touchdowns.

"Dustin's been sick and Rusty had to come off a couple times," Tinninis said. "I wouldn't say we're going to use them all every game, but they're all capable."

The Rockets turned the ball over seven times in the game (five fumbles, two interceptions). The majority of their 263 yards came on two plays - a 70-yard touchdown run by Keith in the second quarter and a 77-yard scoring run by Tucker Hill in the fourth.

"You turn the ball over that many times, you're not going to win," JB coach Kevin Gustafson said. "They were inside our 30 the whole third quarter. We gave them opportunities."

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