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Applemen's ground game still their driving force

October 04, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. -- The Musselman Applemen talk new, but walk old.

Sure, there's that new-fangled spread offense and passing the ball is what's being put on the market, but coach Denny Price could be sued for false advertising. Musselman's success is -- and always has been -- on the ground with a power running game.

"We're throwbacks," said Price, who has made a living running the ball for most of his 36 years of coaching at Musselman. "We have developed into a running team. We have three or four guys who can run the ball. We use the spread when we can, but we are a running team."

The Jefferson Cougars needed to make sure their chinstraps were secured. No. 6 Musselman used Casey Cochran's 141 yards rushing and three touchdowns Friday to physically move Jefferson out of the way for a 28-21 win at Cougar Stadium.

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It was vintage Musselman football -- the kind that was played in the 1980s and '90s for Price -- that established a time-consuming tempo that the Cougars had trouble stopping.

"Their line beat ours," said Jefferson coach Richard Mills. "They played a solid game."

Cochran scored on runs of 5 and 1 yards in the first half and capped the victory with a 3-yard burst with 7:31 remaining in the game to give Musselman (4-2) the margin of victory.

"The kids played hard on defense," Price said. "But this was our first complete game where the offense complemented the defense."

Jefferson (1-4) set the tone early, turning the game into a ping-pong match. The Cougars scored on the third play of the game as quarterback Brandon Hyler swept around right end on a third-and-13 and ran 83 yards for a touchdown.

Musselman answered immediately as Cochran took the ensuing kickoff back 87 yards to the Jefferson 9. He took the honors for the score, running twice -- the second for 5 yards -- to tie the game at 7 with 10:31 left in the first quarter.

The Cougars scored quickly again, this time with Hyler rolling to his left and hitting Keenan Delawder for a 46-yard, pass-and-run touchdown to give Jefferson a 14-7 lead with 6:30 to go in the quarter.

But then, the Musselman earth movers took control.

The Applemen took the ensuing kickoff and turned in a 13-play drive, scoring on Cochran's dive from the 1 to tie the game. Musselman used five different runners on the 6:28 drive to grind out the score.

Quarterback Korey Jackson ran up the middle for a 5-yard score to give Musselman a 21-14 halftime lead, while the Applemen defense held Jefferson to three first downs and 181 yards of offense -- only 98 after Hyler's TD run -- in the first half.

With the running game shut down and Musselman dominating the clock, Jefferson went to the air in the third quarter to get the tying touchdown, a 3-yard pass from Hyler to Dewey McDonald with 1:46 left in the third quarter.

Musselman answered with a 12-play, 6:09 drive off the ensuing kickoff for Cochran's third touchdown and then sealed the game on an interception by Ray Wiesenburg with 3:11 remaining.

Musselman finished with 282 yards of offense, 256 of it coming on 52 running plays. Jefferson had 290 yards offensively, but only 207 after Hyler's early run.

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