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Barrett's return sparks Bulldogs

October 28, 2002|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - As West Virginia's all-time single-season scorer and the sparkplug of No. 1 Martinsburg's potent offensive attack, Brandon Barrett obviously doesn't come out on the short end of many jokes in the Bulldogs' locker room.

When he did this past week, he didn't like it.

"Last week I returned (a kick) to the 3 against Jefferson, and they made fun of me all week because they said he ran me down," said Barrett after his team's 10-0 win over Fort Hill in the rain Friday at Cobourn Field. "It motivated me to score on special teams this week."

Of course, the Bulldogs' teasing was all in good fun. But Barrett was deadly serious as he returned the game's opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown to put Martinsburg (9-0, 3-0) up for good in the battle of teams previously unbeaten in Cumberland Valley Athletic League.

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In what was perhaps the game's second biggest play - on a night without many of them - Barrett also took center stage.

Trailing 10-0 with just over five minutes left to play, Fort Hill (6-2, 3-1) went to the air on fourth-and-goal at the Martinsburg 3. But Jeremy Robinson's pass to the left corner of the end zone only found the arms of a leaping Barrett for the Sentinels' third - and most costly - turnover.

"Brandon's made big plays for us like that all year," said Martinsburg coach David Walker. "He's an exceptional player. Players like him come up with big plays."

The junior's big play proved to be the difference Friday, as Martinsburg, which came in averaging 59 points per game, was outgained 144-108 in total offense.

Bulldogs quarterback Nate Sowers, who's thrown for nearly 2,000 yards this season, was just 7 of 15 for 43 yards with an interception.

"It was so wet I couldn't hold onto the ball," said Sowers, who rushed for a team-high 56 yards. "You can't throw for seven TDs every game. It'd be nice ... but a 'W' is a 'W.'

"They did a good job on defense. We did, too. We held them to zero points."

With Robinson going 0 of 4 passing, Fort Hill picked up all of its offense on the ground, led by Joel Fradiska's game-high 75 yards on 18 carries. But the Sentinels had trouble holding onto the ball, fumbling seven times, twice for turnovers.

"We couldn't hold onto the football and that's what hurt us. But I'm not going to make any excuses," said Fort Hill coach Barry Lattimer. "They're a good football team from offense to defense to special teams. We're just happy to be here, especially after last year (when Fort Hill went 0-4 in the CVAL).

Martinsburg rounded out the scoring in the second quarter on a 20-yard field goal by Aaron Smith, set up by Ryan Bird's fumble recovery on the Fort Hill 34.

"Fort Hill's got a good football team and came down here and played hard," said Walker. "We weren't able to click like we usually do, but we made the plays we had to.

"A win's a win's a win. I'm very happy with our football team. The season's winding down and we needed a game like this, playing all four quarters."

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