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Leopards fail to toe the lines

November 21, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

CUMBERLAND, Md. - When it was all over, the most efficient way to the Maryland Class 1A West championship wasn't by using a straight line.

It was behind a dominant one.

Allegany used its size and strength to overpower Smithsburg on both sides of the line of scrimmage as the Campers muscled their way to a 33-19 victory Saturday at Greenway Avenue Stadium.

Allegany was quicker off the snap of the ball. It translated to 308 yards rushing on 45 attempts - a 6.8 yard per carry average - while the defense held Smithsburg to 239 yards of offense with 110 yards and all 19 Leopards points coming in the fourth quarter after the Campers took their first unit out of the game.

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It led to Allegany winning the West title and advancing to the state semifinals next week against Potomac.

"We got beat up front," said Smithburg coach Buddy Orndorff, matter-of-factly. "Anytime you don't control the line of scrimmage, you're going to get your butt kicked. My hat's off to Allegany. This was the best game I saw them play this year and I've seen five of them."

Once was enough for the Leopards, who had trouble containing Allegany's defensive line of four tackles, anchored by 6-foot-3, 285-pound Dan Pluta in the center of it all.

"We knew they had two outstanding backs and we thought we had to win the battle on the line on offense and defense," Allegany coach Tom Preaskorn said. "What we did was put our two big guys at tackle on the inside and used our quick tackles on the outside."

It proved to be a solid front that Smithsburg's two 1,000-yard running backs - Justin Thompson and Matt Feiser - continued to run head first into the entire game. Allegany held the pair to just 37 yards in the first half, holding 11 of their 15 combined attempts to two yards or less.

With the running game chained to the backfield, Smithsburg was forced to lean on its passing game even more than was planned. The Leopards wanted to throw, but not as much as it became needed.

"We thought we could throw on them," Orndorff said. "We thought we could beat their secondary, but you got to have time to throw. It's tough for (quarterback Josh Daniels) to do that when he's running around back there and can't get set. They beat us off the ball and they are stronger than we are. They didn't show that on the film."

Daniels chipped away at Allegany's defense, hitting his first three passes for 18 yards before connecting with Dustin Mitchell on a 27-yard strike. But the Campers' pressure only allowed Daniels to hit 3 of his next 14 passes and threw him for 11 yards in losses.

With Smithsburg's offense contained, Allegany went into attack mode. The Campers rushed for 191 yards in the first half and built a 20-0 halftime.

Allegany running back Hunter Files ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns while fullback Randy O'Brien rushed for another 74 yards and a touchdown.

Allegany took a 6-0 with its first possession, marching 74 yards in seven plays before Files capped the drive with an 11-yard misdirection run.

Quarterback Austin Scell hit Donavin Vinson with a 12-yard scoring pass and Jeff Link swept for a 6-yard score to give the Campers the 20-point halftime advantage.

The Campers scored on their first possession of the second half on Files' 13-yard run and scored on O'Brien's 3-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 33-0 lead.

With the game in hand, Preaskorn gave the starting defense the rest of the night off and Smithsburg took advantage of the change of personnel.

Feiser rushed for 44 yards on a 61-yard drive to put Smithsburg on the board with 9:21 remaining. The senior put the exclamation mark on his high school career with a 14-yard run for a touchdown on his final carry.

Thompson recovered an Allegany fumble and Smithsburg turned it into four-play scoring drive, capped by sophomore Troy Bradner's 8-yard run. Matt Thompson brought the Leopards within two touchdowns by intercepting backup quarterback Jacob Lewis' pass and returning it 82 yards for a touchdown with 1:18 remaining.

From there, time, and Smithsburg's chances, ran out.

"We couldn't put anything together," Orndorff said. "We didn't have any continuity on offense. We'd string together a couple of big plays and then - bang - we'd get hit behind the line or get a penalty. And then - bang - we couldn't pick it back up."

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