Bulldogs show bite in playoff opener

November 18, 2002|by JOHN PARTINGTON

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Even rain and mud, two elements that hampered Martinsburg's high-octane offense in a late-season win over Fort Hill, didn't give Spring Valley the help it needed Saturday in a 48-13 loss to the Bulldogs at Cobourn Field.

No. 2 seed Martinsburg (11-0) fought through some adversity in the opening quarter, then got its game in gear by halftime and cruised to victory in the opening round of the West Virginia Class AAA playoffs. The victory set up a quarterfinal match with No. 7 seed George Washington next weekend.

"The way it started was kind of scary," Martinsburg coach David Walker said. "They came out and went right after us."

On the opening series, No. 15 Spring Valley (5-6) forced a punt after the Martinsburg offense - which set a state record by scoring 544 points in the regular season - failed to make a first down. Brandon Barrett's punt was blocked and the Timberwolves used a Shane Picha 31-yard field goal four plays later to grab a 3-0 lead with 9:06 left in the opening quarter.


Barrett's 49-yard catch and run of a Nathan Sowers' pass 80 seconds later and Aaron Smith's extra point gave the Bulldogs a 7-3 lead. The touchdown catch was Barrett's 24th this season.

Spring Valley came right back, using quarterback Barrett Lynch's 69-yard scamper and Picha's extra point to take a 10-7 lead with 3:57 left in the quarter.

"It was good for our kids to go through that," Walker said of the early deficit.

Following Lynch's score, the Timberwolves executed an onside kick and moved the ball to the Martinsburg 10-yard line. On the first play of the second quarter, Barrett blocked Picha's 27-yard field-goal attempt and Kyle Vogans returned the ball 44 yards to the Spring Valley 31.

Vogans' return led to a four-play, 31-yard drive that culminated with Sowers' 8-yard scoring run to give Martinsburg the lead for good. Almost four minutes later, Jesse Keyser raced 35 yards for a score to finish an 87-yard, five-play drive. Smith's PAT made it 21-10. Smith converted six of seven extra points.

With 2:37 left before halftime, Sowers' 2-yard run was the last play of an eight-play, 40-yard drive that extended the lead to 28-10.

Picha's 35-yard field goal with 4.6 seconds left before halftime got the visitors to within 28-13.

"We had a good game plan. We wanted to play within our limitations," Spring Valley coach Phil Ratliff said.

Those limitations caught up with the Timberwolves in the second half. The Bulldogs made it 35-13 when Blaine Durst caught a pass from Sowers and outran the defense for a 48-yard touchdown. Durst, a senior, had three receptions for 80 yards to complement Barrett's five-catch, 86-yard effort.

"(Using other receivers besides Barrett) gives teams a different perspective to look at and it gives teams something else to prepare for," Durst said.

Barrett's 99-yard punt return - a state playoff preliminary-round record - with 2:44 left in the third quarter extended the lead to 41-13.

"He's as good as any player I've seen in high school since Randy Moss," Ratliff said.

Following a Keyser interception return, Nick Houpt's 2-yard touchdown run with 2:14 remaining in the game ended the scoring.

"Nobody has beaten us like that all year," Ratliff said. "They seem to have the total package - size, speed, athletes."

Martinsburg outgained Spring Valley 325-179, but the Bulldogs turned the ball over three times and had 68 yards on penalties.

George Washington, next week's opponent, lost to Spring Valley 24-21 this season.

Martinsburg 48, Spring Valley 13

Spring Valley 10 3 0 0 - 13

Martinsburg 7 21 13 7-48

SV - Shane Picha 31 FG

M - Brandon Barrett 49 pass from Nate Sowers (Aaron Smith kick)

SV - Barrett Lynch 69 run (Picha kick)

M - Sowers 8 run (Smith kick)

M - Jesse Keyser 35 run (Smith kick)

M - Sowers 2 run (Smith kick)

SV - Picha 35 FG

M - Blaine Durst 48 pass from Sowers (Smith kick)

M Barrett 99 punt return (kick failed)

M - Houpt 2 run (Smith kick)

SV Mart

First downs 11 18

Rushes-yards 44-139 28-151

Passing yards 40 174

Comp-Att-Int 8-15-1 10-19-2

Total offense 59-179 47-325

Punts-avg. 6-34.3 1-(-10.0)

Penalties 6-40 7-68

Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1

Records: Spring Valley 5-6; Martinsburg 11-0.

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