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Applemen Sports

Sky no Limit for Musselman

Varsity vs Skyline HS on 8/26/2011 7:00:00 PM
Posted Monday, August 29, 2011 by Martinsburg Journal

Sky no limit for Applemen

Ferguson’s punt return sparks season-opening victory

August 27, 2011
By Ben Gibson - For The Journal , journal-news.net

INWOOD - The Musselman Applemen will have plenty of highlights to show on their new video screen as they cruised to a 30-14 victory over the Skyline Hawks.

Speedy running back Josh Ferguson provided the fireworks in the first half with a rushing touchdown and a 60-yard punt return while quarterback Caleb Dembeck connected with his receivers for two touchdowns.

"I just thought it was big to come out of the blocks with a big win," Musselman coach Denny Price said. "We're inexperienced at a lot of positions, and we're going to get better and better."

Musselman's offense took advantage of short field position as the defense and special teams punished the Hawks.

The Applemen's offense took over after a Hawks punt, but Dembeck fumbled as he was sacked by defensive lineman Nick Helmick, with Helmick also recovering the fumble.

After the turnover, the Hawks struggled to run the ball, but a 31-yard toss from quarterback Aaron Jeremiah to a diving Helmick gave Skyline an early 7-0 lead with 6:46 left in the first.

After a Musselman punt, Skyline began its drive in the shadow of its own goal post and fooled the Applemen with a quarterback draw, as Musselman tackled a running back while Jeremiah scampered untouched down the field with the ball.

The Hawks' only problem was the referees were fooled, too, and the play was blown dead, much to the ire of the Skyline team.

"We can't use that as an excuse. It was unfortunate for our kids," Hawks coach Heath Gilbert said. "You just have to keep playing."

The Hawks were forced to punt to Ferguson, who quickly made his way through the arms of tacklers and into the end zone to tie the game at 7 after a Jordan Butler extra point.

"That was thanks to my teammates; it was a cutback and then a big hole," Ferguson said. "They did a good job blocking, and I did my part and took it to the house."

Ferguson again showed his speed with 6:43 left in the second quarter after a long Musselman drive paid off with him making his way into the end zone on a sweep to the left.

Butler's extra point attempt was blocked by the Hawks, leaving Musselman on top 13-7 in the waning minutes of the second quarter.

After forcing the sixth Skyline punt of the first half, the Applemen went into their two-minute offense and were almost to the red zone before a high snap forced Musselman to settle for a field goal.

Butler's first attempt was short, but a penalty for running into the kicker moved the ball up five yards and Butler easily put the ball though the uprights to give the Applemen a 16-7 lead going into intermission.

Skyline came out in the third quarter and began to march down the field with a pair of first downs, but a holding call stopped the momentum and forced the Hawks to punt.

After a series of unsuccessful drives by both teams, Musselman gave itself some breathing room when Dembeck connected with wide receiver Darrin Zombro on a 20-yard touchdown completion to open the fourth fourth quarter, putting Musselman up 23-7 after the PAT.

Musselman tacked on another touchdown through the air on a one-play drive when Dembeck hit running back Maverick Keller on a 66-yard strike to put the Applemen up 30-7 following a Butler kick.

Dembeck had a season-ending injury last season that kept him out of the starting spot, but he settled to pick up his first win as a starter for Musselman.

"Ferguson gave us a spark early, and I think that helped us get things going again in the second half," Dembeck said. As for the injury, "The injury is in the past, I'm looking forward now to a great season."

Price was very pleased to see his young quarterback - who went 9 for 18 with 105 yards and two TDs - complete a number of passes.

"He's young and has a lot of potential," Price said. "He made some mistakes tonight, but when he did, he didn't let it get him down."

The Hawks cut into the Applemen lead with Jeremiah's pass to wide receiver Marcus Turner for a 37-yard touchdown, but Skyline couldn't draw any closer before time expired.

The Applemen defense forced seven three-and-outs, and its special teams unit pushed the ball forward on punt returns, as the offense on average began its drives at the 35-yard line.

The defense also limited the Hawks to 3.2 yards per carry while forcing nine punts, keeping the defense well rested.

"In the past, we struggled on third down and we couldn't get off the field," Price said. "We have to be able to get off the field, and we did that tonight."

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