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Cougars stun No. 1 Bulldogs at Cobourn Field

November 03, 2007|By John O'Brien

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - If Martinsburg is widely accepted as the state's best 7-3 team, then Jefferson proved Friday it can make a pretty strong case for the top 5-5 squad.

Whether that results in a playoff berth is yet to be determined.

Dewey McDonald rushed for three touchdowns and was part of a defensive effort that caused six turnovers as the No. 6 Cougars shocked the No. 1 Bulldogs 29-6 at Cobourn Field.

"The boys just played a hell of a game," Jefferson coach Richard Mills said. "We've been getting better and better each week.

"We've come through the toughest schedule Jefferson has ever had. They're battle-tested."

The Cougars have lost to three undefeated teams - Sherando (Va.), Park View (Va.) and Fort Hill. Brooke (7-2) also beat Jefferson, as did Urbana (4-4). Urbana bested Jefferson by only a point.

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To have a chance to sneak into the top 16, No. 20 Jefferson needed a combination of two losses Friday from Fairmont Senior, Wheeling Park and Nitro. Both Fairmont Senior and Wheeling Park lost, while Nitro won.

"(Beating Martinsburg) is a pretty good feeling," said McDonald, who gained 126 rushing yards and picked off two Dustin Peters passes. "If we don't make it, this was a good way to go out."

And it was the only time the Bulldogs were beaten on the field this year. Earlier in the week, the state Supreme Court upheld a Secondary Schools Activities Commission ruling that stripped Martinsburg of its first two wins because it used an ineligible player. The Bulldogs entered the week as the top-ranked team in the state, but were estimated to be closer to No. 9 by Friday.

"This is the first time we've lost three games in one week," said Martinsburg coach David Walker, who will have to take his team on the road for its first-round playoff game.

"I think we played as bad as I've seen us play in years. On the other end, Jefferson played pretty well."

The Cougars gained only 8 yards on offense in the first half, yet held a 9-6 lead. A bad snap on a punt led Jefferson to its first score, which came on a 6-yard run from McDonald with 1:11 left in the first quarter. The Cougars had taken over on Martinsburg's 19-yard line.

El Hosby banged a 32-yard field goal off the left upright five minutes before halftime, though Peters responded with a 27-yard touchdown run to make it 9-6.

In the first half alone, Peters threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, Brett Rogers fumbled away a punt and the botched punt set up Jefferson's touchdown.

The Cougars didn't need the help in the third, gaining 141 yards in the quarter. McDonald scored on a 15-yard run four minutes in, just after Brandon Hyler hit Casey Johnson for a 36-yard catch-and-run.

Martinsburg punted, and McDonald ran 43 yards to make it 22-6 with 4:26 left. On the Bulldogs' next possession, Johnson grabbed his second interception and sprinted 86 yards for the score.

Peters was 7-of-27 passing for 52 yards and rushed 17 times for 88 yards. Ryan Rowland gained 55 on 10 carries.

Jefferson totaled nine first downs in the second half after moving the chains only once in the first. Mills said that was a product of the offensive line improving its zone-blocking technique.

And the defense was there all night.

"Oh my God, they set the tone early," Mills said. "They kept us in the game early when we weren't cashing in in the red zone.

"They just suffocated Martinsburg's offense. I don't think anybody's been able to do that this year."

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