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Wartburg battles Panthers

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By The Staff

By BRIAN LANGLEY

Morgan County News

CUMBERLAND GAP - Wartburg got in their final pre-season action at Cumberland Gap High School last Friday in jamboree play. The Bulldogs faced the Class AA Cumberland Gap Panthers in 30 minutes of varsity action and then the two teams went 10 minutes to end the night with junior varsity work.

Cumberland Gap earned a 24-14 win in varsity action, while the 'Dogs came away with an impressive 16-0 victory in JV play.

"This is the first jamboree we have played in quite a while. I'm just glad for the opportunity to do that. We got two play two full 15-minute varsity quarters and another JV quarter after that, so we almost got a full game in under the lights. That is good experience for both the JV and the varsity," offered Wartburg head coach Dan Shoemaker.

"This was kind of like a dress rehearsal, so I was tickled to get to come up here and do that."

Wartburg's opportunistic defense came up with the game's first big play and it turned out to set up the game's first score. Senior defensive back Ryan Human intercepted a pass and returned it 23 yards to the C-Gap 30. On the very next play, Wartburg's Philip Daugherty hit Rusty Phillips for a 30-yard touchdown pass. Timmy LeComte added the extra point to make it 7-0 with 9:47 left in the opening quarter.

The Panthers responded with a four-play, 70-yard scoring drive capped by a 42-yard touchdown toss from Ryan Shipley to Whitt Willis to close the gap to 7-6 with 7:22 left in the first quarter.

Cumberland Gap took the lead on their next offensive series. They went 61 yards in seven plays with Shipley hitting Ryan Warren for a 7-yard touchdown strike to give them a 12-7 advantage.

Shipley added a 12-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to build an 18-7 lead.

Wartburg inserted Eugene Poole into the game at quarterback and he ripped off a 47 yard run and got the Bulldogs deep into Panther territory. The two teams then traded interceptions, but Wartburg's Phillips had his pick wiped off for a roughing the passing penalty. Cumberland Gap took advantage of the penalty and marched 95 yards in 10 plays with Sean Frost connecting with Jenkins for a 39-yard scoring pass to make it 24-7 with 3:10 left in the game.

The Bulldogs weren't done just yet. They needed only two Daugherty-to-Poole passes to reach the end zone. The two hooked up for 39 yards and then 31 yards for the touchdown. LeComte added the PAT to slice the final deficit to 24-14.

"We came out and we had to find some answers and I think we did. We threw the ball better this time. We put some points on the board against a pretty good Cumberland Gap team," said Shoemaker.

The two teams then made way for the junior varsity players for a 10-minute game.

After the two teams traded punts, Wartburg's Rusty Phillips hit Michael Lloyd for a 49-yard touchdown strike. The two then hooked up for a two-point pass for an 8-0 lead.

Later in the game, Phillips scored on an 18-yard run to cap a five-play, 68-yard scoring drive. Chad Wagner added the two-point run for a 16-0 win in JV action.

"They (junior varsity) play with a lot of desire. They don't line up right every time and they don't block the right guy every time, but they play with a lot of intensity and that is a good thing to see," said Shoemaker.

Wartburg's 157-yard offensive effort was led by senior QB Philip Daugherty (4-96 for 103 yards, 2 TD passing). Eugene Poole (3-73, 1 TD receiving, 2-52 rushing) led the Bulldogs in receiving and rushing. Rusty Phillips (1-30, 1 TD) also caught a touchdown pass.

"On offense, I thought the pass protection was much better with those five guys up front. That was huge for us. We have been working on that since the last scrimmage," Shoemaker said.

"Phil Daugherty played well. We brought in Eugene Poole as a change-up at quarterback and he played well as well. I think both quarterbacks played well. Ultimately, we're going to have to make a decision about who starts next week. It may be a two-quarterback system next week."

The Bulldogs were led on defense by Travis Hamby (8 tackles), Colton Blakney (5 tackles, 1 behind the line) and Eugene Poole (4 stops). Anthony Stewart (1 tackle in the backfield) and Michael Lloyd each added 3 tackles. Ryan Human intercepted a pass for the 'Dogs.

"Defensively, not our best performance tonight, but the defense has played well up to this point. This is a pretty high-powered offense and they've (Cumberland Gap) been running this for a while. This is kind of where we want to get to at some point. With the gun and spreading it around," said Shoemaker.

In JV action, Rusty Phillips (3-3 for 89 yards, 1 TD passing, 2-12, 1 TD rushing) led Wartburg's offense. Michael Lloyd (2-59, 1 TD) and Nick Crozier (1-30) were the leading receivers, while Stephen Carroll added 17 yards on 2 rushes to lead the team in that department.

The JV Bulldogs were led on defense by Chad Wagner and Nick Crozier each with a sack.

Wartburg (0-0) opens up the 2008 season this Friday at Scott County to take on the Class AAA Highlanders (0-0).

"It is a big game for us. We're going to prepare and do what we need to do and try and get better. We're going to have to move the ball offensively. We're going to have to run the ball and we're going to have to throw the ball some. Defensively, we're going to have to play well," Shoemaker added.