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New 'Dogs, old results

August 27, 2005|By MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va.

It's only one game.

That was the sentiment of many Martinsburg players on the sideline in the closing minutes of the Bulldogs' 34-7 season-opening victory over Hedgesville on Friday night.

Though it's true Friday's win will not count more or less than any other victory the Bulldogs might earn this season, it could go a long way to showing others - and maybe even themselves - who they really are.

"It's hard to put my finger on, but I think it's these guys trying to find their identity," Martinsburg coach David Walker said. "We don't have Nate (Sowers). We don't have Brandon (Barrett). We have some very gifted athletes. I think right now we're just trying to find our groove and figure out what we do best."

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Josh Twyman ran for 105 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, highlighting a new-look Martinsburg offense that amassed 344 yards against the Eagles.

The new look for the Bulldogs' offense is more about personnel than it is formations, particularly at the quarterback position.

Dustin Peters and Cameron Shelton were effective in taking over the offense from last year's Kennedy Award winner, Sowers. The duo combined for 160 yards on 9 of 17 passing, with Shelton throwing for a pair of second-half touchdowns. Peters ran for a score in the first half.

"We kind of went on feel. Dustin led us on a nice drive, so we left him in there for a while," Walker said. "Then Cameron got a shot and he struggled a little on his first drive, but then he got the hot hand. I didn't see any reason to make a change there in the second half."

Martinsburg (1-0, 1-0 Cumberland Valley Athletic League) held the Eagles to virtually no offense in the first half, using an aggressive blitzing package to take advantage of its speed.

Hedgesville gained just 26 yards on 18 plays in the first half. Nine of those 18 plays went for no gain or negative yardage.

"We thought they would blitz us and they brought the house," Hedgesville coach Dave Lopez said. "We were one block away a handful of times from making it a ballgame. We just couldn't get that one block. Now we have to go to work and get ready, because now everybody is going to blitz us."

The Eagles (0-1, 0-1) held their own against the Martinsburg offense early, forcing a fumble by Twyman on the first drive of the game.

But with the Bulldogs sending as many as three blitzers through the middle of the line on every play, the Eagles were unable to get halfback Richard Lane outside and Chad Dutrow found little room inside.

On Martinsburg's second possession, Peters found Shelton streaking down the right side and hit him with a 48-yard pass, setting up three short runs by Twyman to get the Bulldogs on the board, 7-0.

Though Hedgesville's offense was unable to move the ball in the first half, the defense kept the Eagles in the game. It forced a punt and a turnover on downs on the next two possessions and had the 'Dogs' backs against the wall late in the second quarter.

On third-and-6 from the Hedgesville 42, Peters fired a pass toward the Martinsburg sideline. The pass fell incomplete as the Bulldogs receiver was upended on the play, leading to an excessive celebration by one Hedgesville player, who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

A fourth-and-6 became a first down at the Eagles 27, which then became a first-and-goal from the 5 after Twyman's 22-yard run. Peters finished the scoring drive with a 3-yard plunge two plays later to give the Bulldogs a 13-0 lead at the half.

The Eagles were flagged for three unsportsmanlike penalties on one play in the fourth quarter, leading to another Martinsburg score.

"We'll take care of that on Monday when we do our penalty runs, and there will be a lot of them," Lopez said. "We have stressed all preseason that we're going to remain calm. It will be taken care of Monday, because it's not going to happen against Frankfort."

In the second half, Shelton went from the receiving end of passes to the throwing end. He completed his first four passes in the third quarter, including scoring strikes to Q'Monte Matheny and D.J. Porter.

His lone mistake was a fourth-and-16 throw that was picked off at the Hedgesville 4 by Kyle Leonard and returned 96 yards for the Eagles' only score.

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