Hyler lifts Jefferson past Devils

October 27, 2007|By Mark Keller

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - With the game being played in a driving rainstorm for a second straight year, it's safe to say the sun has yet to shine on the Jefferson-Greencastle high school football series.

But the clouds didn't stop one star from burning brightly Friday night.

Jefferson quarterback Brandon Hyler scored three touchdowns and kept the Greencastle defense on its heels much of the night with his scrambling ability, then picked off a pass late in the fourth quarter to preserve the Cougars' 19-7 victory over the No. 3 Blue Devils at Kaley Field.

"I just did what I had to do for the team," Hyler said. "Coach called some good plays, it wasn't open, so I just had to take it in my hands and make something happen."

Hyler made it happen for the Cougars (4-5) three times in the first quarter - all on third and long and with nary a Blue Devils defender getting a hand on him.


On third-and-12 from his own 29, Hyler ran an option to the left with running back Dewey McDonald trailing him. Hyler tucked the ball away and bolted past two defenders into the secondary, then outran Greencastle's Adam Ritchey to the end zone for a 71-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 6:42 to play in the first.

After the Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs, Hyler went to work again. On third-and-13 from the Cougars 33, he connected with a wide-open Casey Johnson for a 39-yard gain to the Greencastle 28.

Then, on the eighth play of the drive, Hyler took the snap in the shotgun and looked for an open receiver.

He instead found the middle of the field bare and took off running, scoring from 15 yards out with 48 seconds left. A blocked PAT left the score at 13-0.

"He's learning. He's getting there," Jefferson coach Richard Mills said. "By next year, he'll be able to do real well. We're fortunate enough to have him back next year as a senior."

Meanwhile, the Blue Devils (7-2) could get little going offensively. They turned the ball over one play after Hyler's second score when Dustin Barry couldn't handle a pitch from Brett Meyers. They also gave up possession on downs three times in the first half.

It was one of those nights when things just seemed to go Jefferson's way. How else to explain a team fumbling six times and losing none of them?

"Yeah, they didn't lose any so it didn't really help us," Greencastle coach Chuck Tinninis said. "It just kind of set them back a little bit."

Still, Greencastle stayed alive. After Rusty Cordell returned a Jefferson punt 20 yards to the Cougars 30, Cordell hooked up with Ritchey on a 29-yard pass to the 1. Meyers then hit Jason Koons with a 1-yard pass to get the Blue Devils within 13-7 at the half.

But two third-quarter drives netted just 13 yards for Greencastle. And Hyler scrambled for 13 yards to the Blue Devils 1 early in the fourth quarter, setting up his third touchdown run.

"He made plays. My hat's off to him," Tinninis said of Hyler. "He's a heck of a ball player. Was tonight."

Hyler finished with 88 yards rushing and 54 yards passing. On Greencastle's final possession, he picked off a pass from Meyers at the Cougars 3 to seal the win and keep Jefferson's slim playoff hopes alive.

"We've played some pretty good teams this year, so if we can get to .500, we have to be happy," Mills said. "Not satisfied, but happy. If you're satisfied with .500 then you're never getting better."

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