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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Nitro busts Beckley’s bubble

NITRO — John H. Lilly said it all week — Nitro is not a one-man team.

Senior running back Josh Culbertson’s name has become synonymous with the Wildcats. But receiver Chris Fulmer showed Friday night that he is an equally important part of Nitro’s offense.

Fulmer caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Michael Scott, and had a huge third-down reception on Nitro’s final touchdown drive to help the Class AAA No. 4 Wildcats upset No. 1 Woodrow Wilson 32-21.

Fulmer ended the night with eight receptions for 158 yards. Before the game, he was honored for setting the state career reception record with 300 last week.

His third catch against Woodrow — a 60-yard touchdown catch from Scott in the first quarter — gave him the national mark. Fulmer now has 308 career receptions.

Before the game, the focus was on the running backs — Culbertson for Nitro, Marcus Manns for Woodrow. But the one-on-one matchup that wound up taking center stage was Fulmer against Manns at defensive back.

On this night, Fulmer won the matchup.

“He’s a good defensive back,” Fulmer said of Manns. “I just used the same moves I always use and they seemed to work.”

“That just shows you what a quality receiver that Chris is,” Nitro coach Scott Tinsley said.

“He runs the nicest routes that I have seen for a high school kid. It’s hard to put a guy out there and just say, ‘Here, you’ve got him,’ without any help. Chris doesn’t get single coverage like that, so we had to take advantage of it.”

Lilly said a defensive mixup only made it appear that Manns was on an island.

“We weren’t doing that, but that’s the way it looked and that’s the way it turned out,” Lilly said.

Culbertson, meanwhile, looked to be contained, at least in the first half. He was held to just 32 yards on 13 carries in the first two quarters.

He finished the game with three touchdowns and 156 yards on 30 carries. It was his lowest total of the season, and the first time he has been held to under 200 yards since going for 136 in a second-round playoff loss to Morgantown last year.

“That’s a good — no, not a good defense, that’s a great defense,” Tinsley said. “They had a real nice goal-line stand when we had a chance to make it 21-0 and kept pushing us back, and we’re not used to that.”

Something that Woodrow was not accustomed to was playing from behind. The Wildcats took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the first touchdown coming after Culbertson recovered a fumble on the first play of the game.

Woodrow quarterback Ian McCulloch pitched wildly to Manns, and Culbertson fell on the ball at the Flying Eagles’ 16-yard line. Four plays later, Culbertson scored from two yards out.

On Nitro’s next possession, an off-sides penalty against Woodrow on fourth-and-1 extended the drive. On third down at the Nitro 40, Scott hit Fulmer over his right shoulder for their first touchdown connection.

“We did the one or two things we could not do against a team like this, and that is give up big plays,” Lilly said. “We gave up big plays three times — third-down-and-7, third-down-and-8, third-down-and-7 — and you can’t do that and win against good football teams.”

The biggest came in the fourth quarter when Woodrow’s defense seemed ready to stop the Wildcats while trailing 26-21. But Scott again hooked up with Fulmer, this time for 47 yards on third-and-6 to make it first-and-goal at the Eagles’ 3-yard line.

After a one-yard loss, Culbertson ran around left end for a four-yard touchdown, effectively clinching the win.

Woodrow (8-1) did respond after falling behind early.

Nitro started a drive at Woodrow’s 9-yard line after a high punt snap by the Eagles resulted in a 32-yard loss. But Culbertson was stopped for a seven-yard loss on first down, and the drive actually stalled all the way back at the 40-yard line, ending when Scott was sacked by Adam Parkulo.

Woodrow scored on the next drive, with Manns ending a 13-play, 60-yard march with a 3-yard TD to make it 14-7.

The Eagles forced Nitro (8-1) to punt, and quarterback Ian McCulloch then hit Tyler Coleman on a 30-yard touchdown pass to tie the game before halftime.

“They showed up, they made the plays and we didn’t,” Lilly said. “Now I will give our team credit, because every time we (fell behind) we battled back and that’s what good teams do. I give our team credit, but I give them credit, too. They were the better team tonight.”

Culbertson also had a 48-yard TD run in the third quarter to put the Wildcats ahead 20-14, and Fulmer’s second TD catch of 28 yards made it 26-14.

McCulloch and Coleman hooked up again in the fourth quarter, a 17-yard TD making it 26-21.

Manns ran for 57 yards on 11 carries for the Eagles. McCulloch completed 8 of 13 passes for 123 yards.

Scott was 12-of-16 for 202 yards for Nitro.

Woodrow closes out the regular season next Friday at George Washington.

Nitro 32, Woodrow Wilson 21

WW (8-1) 0 14 0 7 — 21

N (8-1) 14 0 12 6 — 32

First Quarter

N: Josh Culbertson 2 run (Andrew Rollins kick), 10:54.

N: Chris Fulmer 60 pass from Michael Scott (Rollins kick), 2:08.

Second Quarter

WW: Marcus Manns 2 run (Chris Yambrick kick), 3:30.

WW: Tyler Coleman 30 pass from Ian McCulloch (Yambrick kick), 1:39.

Third Quarter

N: Culbertson 48 run (kick failed), 9:01.

N: Fulmer 28 pass from Scott (pass failed), 1:16.

Fourth Quarter

WW: Coleman 17 pass from McCulloch (Yambrick kick), 8:48.

N: Culbertson 4 run (pass failed), 3:36.

Individual Statistics

Rushing — WW: Manns 11-57, Emeka Eneje 7-42, Marquel Ali 7-3, Wessley Walker 1-4, Adam Parkulo 1-2, McCulloch 3-(-22). N: Culbertson 30-156, Jon Culbertson 1-0, Chris Kirkpatrick 1-(-2), Michael Wright 1-(-8), Scott 2-(-20).

Passing — WW: McCulloch 8-13-0-123. N: Scott 12-16-0-202.

Receiving — WW: Walker 3-53, Coleman 3-52, Manns 2-18. N: Fulmer 8-158, Gideon Casto 1-28, Joshua Humphrey 1-14, Josh Culbertson 1-2, Jon Culbertson 1-0.

Turnovers — N: Josh Culbertson (FR).

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