INWOOD - After the fans had left the field and the parents waited on their players, Musselman Applemen coach Brian Thomas hoarsely gave all the credit for the game to his coaches and players. It was they who made the 34-7 victory against the John Marshall Monarchs possible Friday, he said.
"Since I got this job, I've got to give so much credit to my coaching staff," Thomas said. "This win goes to them."
Musselman recovered John Marshall's onside kick on the first drive of the game at the Monarchs 38. Danny Arndt and Trevon Wesco strung together enough rushing yards to get to the 6-yard line. Arndt took the ball in for the Applemen's first touchdown.
Though John Marshall ran 14 plays on its first possession, it turned the ball over on downs.
"We didn't finish on drives early on," John Marshall coach Rick Goodrich said.
The Monarchs ran nine plays on their next possession, including a 23-yard pass from Noah Martin to Austin Skrzyneki, but just couldn't find the end zone. On their final possession before the half, Martin threw an interception at the Musselman 7.
Musselman stayed on the ground for its next touchdown almost the whole way. Trevon Wesco got his team to the 1-yard line after breaking a few tackles on a 14-yard run. He took the ball again for the short run to put his team up 14-0 after the extra point.
"The first half we did good," Thomas said. "We had to come in at halftime and make come adjustments."
He said the team made those adjustment's perfectly after ending the second half on a pass from Wesco that was nearly intercepted.
"Those kids do everything we ask them to. Those kids are unbelievable," he said.
On the Applemens' first possession of the half, they didn't let a flag get them down when it brought back a big run from Wesco that could have been a touchdown.
Wesco picked back up with a 10-yard carry, and Arndt took the ball for 11 yards. Deonte Glover ran three straight plays to added another touchdown to the scoreboard.
"He's outstanding," Thomas said of Glover.
He knew the Monarchs wanted to stop him but said a team can only do that for so long before Glover finds a hole.
For the second time, a long string of plays was ended with an interception when John Marshall was in scoring position. A penalty on the Applemen put John Marshall at the Musselman 12.
Martin sent a pass toward the end zone but was intercepted again by Wesco, this time at the 1.
Despite the two interceptions, Martin connected on 13 of his 25 attempts and threw for 97 yards.
"He's a sophomore, and he's getting better every week," Goodrich said.
Where he saw the problem was with tackling. There were plenty of times during the game when the Monarchs had the play stopped but Musselman was able to break the tackle and gain a few more yards.
"We were there," Goodrich said. "We just couldn't tackle. We played hard. We just didn't tackle.
"It all starts up front and we got beat there."
It only took three plays for Musselman to add its next touchdown.
After an incomplete pass, Wesco ran the ball 26 yards and then completed a 73-yard pass to Glover.
"The big thing with our offense is we don't care who we get the ball to," Thomas said. "It does not matter who gets the ball. Whatever they give us, we'll take."
The Applemen passed to four different receivers and handed off to four backs during the game.
Musselman had a 35-yard pass to Tommy Hargroves brought back via penalty and then gave up a fumble to John Marshall.
The drive took 11 plays, but the Monarchs finally found the end zone.
Staying on the ground until the very last play, John Marshall got to the 8-yard line, and Martin connected with Tyler Goode on the touchdown pass with just a little more than 4 minutes left in the game.
"Unbelievable, un-be-liev-able," Thomas said about his defense. "The effort they gave ...I told them at 5 o'clock, 'You guys are going to have a breakout game.'"
With only the one score given up, the Applemen defense held the Monarchs to 248 yards and was able to stop them especially when it mattered.
Musselman added a final touchdown two minutes later on a 40-yard run by Hargroves.
"The most physical team on the field is going to be the winner," Goodrich said, adding that wasn't the Monarchs.