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Bulldogs rip Sentinels

October 25, 2003|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

CUMBERLAND, Md. - It's just not supposed to happen this way at Greenway Avenue Stadium.

Teams that enter the home of Fort Hill football are supposed to be in awe of the atmosphere, the turf, the 52 steps the Sentinels run down before the game.

The tradition of Fort Hill football is usually the Sentinels' 12th man, giving them an advantage over any opponent who lines up against them.

The Sentinels probably could have put 12 players on the field Friday night and would still have come up short against the Martinsburg Bulldogs.

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The No. 1 Bulldogs dominated Fort Hill on both sides of the ball and silenced some of their most vocal critics with a 41-2 thrashing of the Sentinels in a Cumberland Valley Athletic League game.

"We showed we can play with anybody tonight," Martinsburg receiver Brandon Barrett said. "If we bring our 'A' game, we can play with anybody."

Without a doubt, the Bulldogs (9-0, 3-0) had their 'A' game Friday night, rolling up 396 yards of offense against a Fort Hill team that had allowed only 45 points all season.

Meanwhile, the Martinsburg defense limited the Sentinels (7-1, 3-1) to 116 yards and four first downs.

"I think the one thing we answered is that we can stop the run," Bulldogs coach David Walker said. "I think our defense is a lot better than it gets credit for because it's overshadowed by the offense. The defense played an outstanding game tonight."

When push came to shove, however, the two Martinsburg stars who generate the most attention shone brightest once again.

Quarterback Nate Sowers had a near-perfect night passing, completing 20 of 23 for 229 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 75 yards on 11 carries.

Barrett remained Sowers' favorite target, pulling in 13 catches for 148 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also carried three times for 51 yards and a score.

"They're a great team with great people up front," Fort Hill coach Barry Lattimer said. "They dwarfed us up front."

The Bulldogs tipped their offensive hand right after the opening kickoff, taking what they felt sure the Sentinels would give them - the short pass.

Sowers completed five straight passes in the flats, then took off up the middle on a draw play for a 19-yard gain to the Fort Hill 1. Carl Redman punched it in one play later and the Buldogs were on the board with less than four minutes gone.

"We were just going to take what they gave us," Sowers said. "We thought they were going to keep their corners and their safeties back, so we took the short stuff."

After forcing a punt, the Bulldogs started at their own 28 and Sowers started to look a little farther up the field for his receivers.

In four plays, Martinsburg moved to the Sentinels 28. Working out of the shotgun, Sowers found Barrett down the sideline for a completion. Barrett broke one tackle, made a move to avoid another defender and pulled up at the 3 to let another charging player blow past him as he walked into the end zone.

By the time the Sentinels had a scoring opportunity late in the second quarter, Martinsburg already led, 28-0.

Fort Hill tight end Denny Hockman gained 51 yards on a pass over the middle from quarterback Branden Giffin that took the ball to the Martinsburg 4. The Bulldogs defense stiffened and held Giffin out fourth-and-goal from the 1. The Sentinels never threatened offensively again.

"They kicked our (butts) all over the field and they kicked our (butts) in every phase of the game," Lattimer said.

Fort Hill got its only points three plays later. With Martinsburg pinned at its own 3, Sowers had the ball snapped past him and out of the end zone for a safety.

The Bulldogs closed the first half with another Sowers-to-Barrett touchdown connection, then initiated the mercy rule late in the third quarter on a Brannon Hamilton touchdown run.

"It's a great feeling. I'm sure that rarely happens up here," Walker said. "I'm very pleased with our performance, but we can still get better."

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