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Sowers, 'Dogs aim to reverse trend

November 26, 2004|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

Martinsburg quarterback Nate Sowers has accomplished plenty in his four years with the Bulldogs.

One of the few things he - and the Bulldogs - has been unable to do is avoid a team from Parkersburg in the playoffs.

Martinsburg's last three seasons have ended in heartbreak at the hands of a Parkersburg team. And don't look now, but it could happen again.

The Parkersburg Big Reds come to Cobourn Field tonight for a West Virginia Class AAA semifinal game against the Bulldogs, with the winner earning a trip to Wheeling Island Stadium for the state championship game next Saturday.

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The Bulldogs have lost just five games in the last four seasons and three of those losses have come against Parkersburg or Parkersburg South.

If Martinsburg is to end that trend, it will again rely on the legs and left arm of Sowers, much as it has throughout this season.

Sowers' performance in last week's 35-34 come-from-behind victory over Jefferson in the quarterfinal was a microcosm of his senior year.

He threw for nearly 300 yards and ran for just under 100 to lead the Bulldogs back from a pair of two-touchdown deficits against Jefferson just to give Martinsburg a chance to play Parkersburg again.

"We can't be worried about who we're playing, we just have to prepare like we prepare for any game," Sowers said after the Jefferson win.

Sowers has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 this season, putting him in the running for the Kennedy Award, which is given to the top player in the state.

Sowers finished second to teammate Brandon Barrett in last year's balloting. While his statistics might not be as lofty as those of a year ago, intangibles such as leadership will help his case, just as they help the Bulldogs on the field.

"Any time the ball is in Nate's hands, we feel like we have a chance," Martinsburg coach David Walker said after the Jefferson game. "We feel like we can score any time Nate has the ball."

Sowers led two scoring drives in the final eight minutes of the game against Jefferson to erase a 34-21 deficit. He capped the winning drive with just over a minute remaining in the game on a 4-yard touchdown run, one play after he drew Jefferson offsides in a fourth-and-4 situation at the Jefferson 9.

"We just knew that we couldn't panic, but we had to go out and execute," Sowers said. "There was no room for mistakes at that time."

And the Bulldogs know there is no room for error this week, either. They'll have to be at their best to get out from under the thumb of the Parkersburg football community.

"When you get to this point in the season, there are no bad teams," Walker said. "Everyone that's here deserves to be here. It's the team that executes the best and makes the fewest mistakes that moves on."

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