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Bulldogs start fast, then hold on late

September 03, 2005|By TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va.


It's been an infrequent occurrence in recent years that Martinsburg goes three quarters in one game without scoring a touchdown.

The Bulldogs did all their offensive barking in the opening period with three touchdowns, and the defense stood up to the test the rest of the way to fend off feisty Rockbridge County (Va.) 18-13 on Friday night in the home opener at Cobourn Field.

"(D.J.) Adams, Jesse (Jean) ... geez, they all played a great defensive game," said Bulldogs coach Dave Walker, who celebrated his 75th win in his 100th Martinsburg game.

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Martinsburg held Rockbridge to one first down and 47 total yards of offense in the first half before the Wildcats built a second-half challenge, only to be cut short in the latter stages.

Rockbridge, playing in its season opener, didn't even get a first down rushing until 8:26 remained in the third period. That first down was part of a 61-yard drive that was capped off on a third-and-26 situation that caught Martinsburg flat-footed defensively.

Quarterback Chase Prasnicki pitched out to halfback Jason Campbell, who handed off to Marcus Mayo on a reverse. Mayo then put on a clinic with a perfect pass to Campbell, who found the end zone for the 30-yard score at 4:09.

"I got taken on that reverse," said Martinsburg defensive back D.J. Porter.

In the fourth quarter, Rockbridge made the switch to Mayo at quarterback and he struck for 30- and 35-yard completions to Wes Harlow on consecutive plays that led to a 5-yard score by Prasnicki with 6:57 remaining.

"We were real aggressive on defense in the first half," said Porter. "We weren't prepared for them making the change at quarterback. My hat is off to him. He (Mayo) was quite an athlete."

Martinsburg scuffled offensively, but pushed time off the clock with a key first down on a third-down play when quarterback Dustin Peters found Porter for a 12-yard completion.

The Bulldogs eventually punted and the defense held firm, stopping Rockbridge on downs when Mayo was nailed for a 3-yard loss.

"We saw (Rockbridge) on tape and knew they were a good football team," said Walker. "But, we hadn't seen 24 (Mayo) at quarterback."

Martinsburg took advantage of a Rockbridge mistake on the opening series of the game when the Wildcats botched a punt attempt on a bad snap that left the football on the 6-yard line.

Josh Twyman scored from 3 yards out with 8:33 left for the early lead, which increased five minutes later on two plays.

Following a punt, Twyman broke out for a 24-yard gain to the Bulldogs 40. On the next play, Peters' perfect spiral connected with a streaking Porter along the Rockbridge sideline. Porter made one juke inside on his defender and scored to make it 12-0.

"(Dustin) saw me in front of the defender and led me five, six yards perfectly with the pass," said Porter.

After a quick Rockbridge possession and a nifty punt return of 18 yards by Porter, the Bulldogs marched 35 yards and scored with seven seconds left in the opening quarter when Twyman went over tackle from 10 yards out for an 18-0 lead.

"For three years we got spoiled with (Nate) Sowers running this offense," Walker said. "We've got to go to work offensively. We made some bad decisions. We got into too many third-and-long situations and that limits what you can do."

Peters was 7 of 15 passing for 130 of Martinsburg's 320 total yards, but often looked indecisive.

"There were some mental mistakes, but we'll look at the film and cut down on them," said Peters.

Twyman finished with 118 rushing yards on 19 carries and Porter finished with four receptions for 111 yards and the TD.

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