By Jim Laise - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- Skyline High School rode the arm and legs of veteran quarterback Aaron Jeremiah as the home-standing Hawks held off Musselman (W.Va.) Friday night here in the season opener for both teams. The Hawks won 41-28 in the non-district game.
Jeremiah, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior, was unofficially 6 of 9 passing for 94 yards. He threw one interception. The big fellow also battered the Musselman defense for nine runs for approximately 62 more yards.
"I didn't throw all that [great], but I just ran behind a great line. To me, our offense is where we ended the season -- on an up note," Jeremiah said.
Skyline (1-0) finished 4-6 last year, but shared a portion of the Northwestern District championship.
"No question it was a big win," said Skyline coach Heath Gilbert. "It went back and forth and was a great game. It's a big win, sure. That's a good program and [Musselman coach] Denny Price does a great job up there. They were highly ranked in the state."
Musselman (0-1) quarterback Caleb Dembeck (22 of 33 passing for almost 325 yards) had two passes picked off by Skyline defensive back Hunter Stewart.
Each team took turns scoring to complete the first quarter.
Skyline got on the board on the first kickoff of the season. Dayvon Haight ran the ball back 82 yards. Jeremiah's kick made it 7-0 just 14 seconds into the season.
Musselman returned the favor when Dembeck found Trevon Wesco for a 24-yard aerial into the end zone. The two-point try failed and the visiting Applemen trailed 7-6 with 8:01 showing in the first quarter.
Skyline got back on the scoreboard on the next series. A run of eight yards was good enough for the score. Jeremiah added the extra point for a 14-6 Skyline lead with 3:38 showing in the first quarter.
An interception by Skyline ended a Musselman drive.
Kylmen Breeden made the Applemen pay with a 58-yard scoring romp. The extra point gave the host a 21-6 advantage with 11:46 left in the first quarter.
Musselman came back with a drive of its own. Dembeck found Wesco again for a 36-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was good, pulling the West Virginians within 21-14 with 8:24 remaining in the half.
Skyline answered when Jeremiah scampered 61 yards on an option keeper. The PAT was good and Skyline increased the lead to 28-14 with 7:25 showing in the half.
But Musselman pulled within 28-20 on a 35- yard scoring pass. The PAT failed with 4:23 showing in the half.
The Applemen stopped the Hawks on the home team's final two possessions of the first half.
Skyline drove the ball from its 16 to open the second half, but was stopped at the Musselman 1.
The goal-line stand paid off. Dembeck unloaded a 52-yard pass en route to a quick drive that ended with the Musselman scoring toss of seven yards for the score with 1:29 showing in the third quarter.
Dembeck found a man in the end zone for the two-point conversion. Musselman had tied the score at 28.
After failing to score in the third quarter, Skyline was on the board again with a 11-yard run for Marquise Lewis in the fourth frame. The extra point put Skyline ahead 35-28 with 9:51 remaining.
On fourth-and-8, Musselman's Dembeck was picked off by Skyline's Stewart in the end zone with 6:25 left in the game.
When Musselman got the ball back, Skyline's Nick Helmick made a key sack and Dembeck threw incomplete on third down to force a punt.
On the next series, Jeremiah threw a 54-yard pass which was tipped by a Musselman defender. Breeden scrambled for the tip, then carried into the end zone. The extra point missed, but Skyline had the score to make it 41-28 with 1:54 to go.
Skyline's Stewart intercepted Dembeck's final pass of the game with a minute to go.