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'Dogs flex for the home crowd-Friday night football

September 23, 2002|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - For many Martinsburg football fans, the Bulldogs' high-scoring, high-powered offense of this season was little more than a rumor, something they had only heard or read about.

On Friday night, the Bulldogs made their home debut after three straight road games and the fans got to see what all the talk was about up close.

After being relatively held in check in the first half by an aggressive Hedgesville defense, the No. 1 Bulldogs broke out with 47 points in the second half on their way to a 64-3 win over Hedgesville in a Cumberland Valley Athletic League game at newly-remodeled Cobourn Field.

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Martinsburg's two top dogs, Nate Sowers and Brandon Barrett, again did the bulk of the damage. Sowers threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns - all to Barrett - and ran for two scores as the Bulldogs topped the 200-point plateau in the fourth game of the season.

Still, Martinsburg (4-0, 1-0) was pressed in the first half by a Hedgesville team anxious to erase the memory of a 59-7 loss to the Bulldogs a year ago.

"They did a good job of keeping the ball away from us and trying to consume some of the clock," Martinsburg coach David Walker said. "They tested us in the first half."

Hedgesville was pumped from the opening kickoff and put together an impressive scoring drive on their first possession. Highlighted by a 41-yard run by Matt Bartgis, the Eagles (1-3, 0-1) drove the ball inside the Martinsburg 5-yard line before stalling.

Bryce Blair booted a 21-yard field goal to give Hedgesville an early 3-0 lead.

The Bulldogs, however, wasted no time answering. On their first play from scrimmage, Jesse Keyser took a middle handoff and went 51yards to the Hedgesville 23. Four plays later, Sowers made the Eagles defense bite on a fake handoff to Keyser while he scooted through the line for a 7-yard touchdown.

The Eagles ate up some clock on their next drive but ended up having to punt. On the first play of the second quarter, however, the Bulldogs coughed up the ball and Hedgesville was gaining momentum and confidence.

But the Eagles went three and out on their next two possessions and failed on another fourth down try, while Martinsburg added a touchdown by Nick Houpt and a 41-yard field goal from Aaron Smith for a 17-3 halftime lead.

The second half was all Martinsburg and it began with Sowers and Barrett. The two connected just once in the first half, but the sophomore quarterback found his favorite target on the first drive of the second half for a 37-yard score on a swing pass.

After another three and out for Hedgesville, Sowers hit Barrett on the same play, which Barrett broke for a 47-yard touchdown and the rout was on.

"(Barrett) is a player, and you're supposed to get the ball to your best player," Walker said. "He makes things happen. He's an exciting player to watch."

Keyser finished with 103 yards rushing. Bartgis led Hedgesville with 77 yards on the ground.

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