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Visitors muscle by North

September 20, 2008|By MARK KELLER

Football coaches like to say they want players on their team who will run through a wall for them.

Musselman coach Denny Price is more than happy to have Casey Cochran simply run behind a wall.

Cochran used his protection well Friday night, setting the stage for a big night in the first quarter with an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown as the Applemen blanked North Hagerstown, 25-0, at Mike Callas Stadium.

"The returns, that's my favorite part of the whole game because the wall we have is incredible," Cochran said. "We work on it every week, and those guys on the wall are awesome. It worked out great tonight."

"Casey's tough. He's gotten better every week," Price said. "He's a small kid, but he's tough and can do a lot of things. He hasn't even caught the ball for us yet, but he can catch the ball well, too."

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Cochran proved his ability to catch defensively Friday, picking off three passes and returning one of them for a touchdown. He also ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

It was a frustrating night for the Hubs (0-3), who just couldn't find their way offensively. With starting quarterback Bryan Calendine sidelined -- perhaps for the season -- with a knee injury, North coach Dan Cunningham looked to Lynn Lowman and Anthony Winters to run the show.

Both had their troubles, not the least of which was the Musselman defense. The Applemen (2-2) stacked the box against North's running game, inviting the Hubs to try to beat them through the air. They couldn't do it.

Cunningham eventually put Chase Worthington, primarily the Hubs punter and kicker, under center in the fourth quarter. He completed 3 of 4 passes for 37 yards.

"We really thought we would be able to run the ball against them, but they got good pressure on us from the edge all night," Cunningham said. "We had to throw the ball, and we just couldn't get in a flow all night."

Musselman also had its struggles offensively. The Applemen gained just 41 yards in the first half, a fact that was somewhat overlooked because of Cochran's two big returns.

Midway through the first quarter, Cochran fielded a punt at his own 13 and headed toward the sideline, avoiding one North tackler to get into the clear, then running past Worthington on the way to the end zone for a 6-0 lead.

In the second quarter, Cochran jumped a route on a North receiver, stepping in front of a pass from Lowman to make his first interception of the night. He had nothing but daylight between himself and the end zone as he outran the Hubs, giving Musselman a 13-0 halftime lead.

"After the punt return, we were OK. We were playing good defense," Cunningham said. "The interception return broke our backs. Our confidence dropped a lot after that."

Whatever confidence the Hubs had left was quickly taken away in the third quarter when Musselman quarterback Korey Jackson connected with Vincente Hernandez for a 39-yard touchdown pass.

"This was a big win because we knew they had athletes and we knew going into the rest of the schedule this would be pivotal," Price said. "We haven't won a big game in a while. This was a big win for us."

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