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Applemen flourish in defeating Jefferson

By Bob Madison - For the Chronicle | Sep 11, 2020

Christian Blowe (6) breaks a Musselman tackle in the first game of the season for Jefferson. David Pennock

INWOOD — Carrying both the state of West Virginia flag and the flag of the United States when its players tumbled on to the playing field at Jefferson, Musselman took only 21 seconds to score its first points in what became a 49-6 season-opening win for the experienced Applemen.

Bounced out of the Class AAA state playoffs in the quarterfinal round last season, Musselman returned a large core of starters from that team. And it used all of them and a cadre of non-starters to shove the Cougars into the loss column as both teams sized up what might happen in the coronavirus disturbed 2020 season.

After versatile Blake Hartman returned the game’s opening kickoff from his six-yard line to the Jefferson three (91 yards), the Applemen were penalized before they could run a play from scrimmage. From the eight, Hartman ran in for the first points. And Musselman had a short-lived 7-0 lead after only 21 seconds had elapsed.

At halftime, Musselman’s dominance was even more pronounced as it assumed a comfortable 35-6 lead.

Nick Zamora had accounted for 12 points with a six-yard scoring sweep and a 75-yard kickoff-return touchdown.

Quarterback Caleb Hardy plunged in from the one for another score.

Even before halftime, Hartman had rushed for nearly 100 yards, following route-clearing, interior blocking most of the time.

The only scores in the second half came on two more Musselman touchdowns, as the Applemen reserves came in to notch plenty of minutes.

Jefferson’s lone touchdown was provided when Caysen Lanza accepted an eight-yard scoring pass from Sammy Roberts.

Throughout the first half, Musselman generally thwarted Jefferson’s running game and constantly pressured its special teams whether returning kickoffs or fiercely rushing its punter.

Hartman and Zamora reaped most of the benefits of the Applemen offense, but the offensive line graded out very well in the season’s first game.

Winning by 43 points and cruising through a second half after posting five scores in the opening half proved Musselman’s superiority against the Cougars.