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Morgantown faces Musselman in must-win for both teams, sitting at 1-3


MORGANTOWN — Morgantown and Musselman enter Friday’s contest with identical 1-3 records. The two teams also come in on the heels of thrilling games, albeit both losses.

The Mohigans fell to Woodrow Wilson, 28-27, while the Applemen lost to Sherando (Va.), 49-43.

“They’re like us,” MHS head coach Sean Biser said. “They’re a lot better than their record shows.”

Sherando led Musselman 49-30 early in the fourth quarter. The Applemen scored quickly on its first possession of the last frame, driving 70 yards in just six plays, closing the gap to 12 points. They recovered an onside kick and scored a minute later. On the ensuing kickoff, Musselman recovered a Sherando fumble and took over at the 25-yard line, deep in enemy territory.

The Applemen weren’t able to punch it in, though, and had their last-second pass attempt swatted down in the end zone as time expired.

Morgantown lost on a tough defensive stand by Woodrow Wilson. In overtime down in Beckley, the Mohigans scored a touchdown and went for the 2-point conversion, but their play that had been working all night was upended by the stout Woodrow Wilson defense.

“We picked a play we thought was going to work,” Biser said. “We can win this right now and that would keep us from losing it in the long run. They just made a good play on it and we didn’t execute it the right way. That’s all she wrote.”

Morgantown was in control for a good portion of the contest, scoring the first touchdown and leading by eight points at one point in the fourth quarter. MHS even forced four Woodrow Wilson turnovers. 

“We had the game in control and gave up a play late in the game, and they scored a two-point conversion which tied the game up,” Biser said. “We have to learn how to respond in situations. We have to take control of the game and don’t let it get into overtime. We have to take control, hold control, and not let up.

“We’ll get there. That’s the thing we have to learn from. We don’t want that to become a habit.”

It’s another tough test this week with the eastern panhandle foe. The Biser era at MHS began in 2020 against Musselman, a 42-9 loss. The Mohigans last beat the Applemen in 2017. Biser is very familiar with them dating back to his days as head coach at Hampshire and Keyser.

For the past five seasons, Musselman has finished ranked in the top five in Class AAA.

“They’re always a physical team,” Biser said. “They like to run the ball and they can give you some pressure. They’re running some RPOs, some option stuff. They mix it up.”

Musselman employs a dual-quarterback system with Nathan LaLiberte and Bayden Hartman splitting the duties. Ray Adames is their top target at receiver, even though he actually saw some time under center last week.

The Applemen graduated all 11 offensive players from last year’s team that featured Kennedy Award winner Blake Hartman. They went 8-2 last year, winning seven-straight games before the season was shut down in the third round of the playoffs.

Replacing the dynamic Hartman are a number of players, including Kobe Hayslette and Jacob Miller.

“Very different looking this season,” Musselman head coach Brian Thomas told the Martinsburg Journal. “We’re going to do some different things this year because I think we have some different strengths. This year’s strengths aren’t what last year’s strengths were. I’ve kind of always believed that you play up to what you have. There’s a lot of things I think we’ll be able to do well.”

Musselman’s lone win of the season came in Week 1 — a 56-23 win against Spring Mills.

For Morgantown to get back on track, it’ll have to get healthy this week. Biser said a few starters on both sides of the ball have rested in the earlier part of the week in the hopes of getting back into the rotation by game day.

The best medicine may just be some home cooking. It’s Youth Night at Pony Lewis Field.

“It’s always good to be at home,” Biser said. “I think we’ll get a good fan turnout and a great student section like we’ve been getting at all our home games.

“We’ve got to get back to work and figure out how to correct the mistakes that cost us the game. We’re working on the fundamentals — the little things — that if we can put it all together we can win a game like that, not lose it.”

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