Bulldogs take early exit from playoffs

November 13, 2005|By BOB PARASILITI

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - For the last few years, the road to the West Virginia Class AAA championship game traveled through Martinsburg.

On Saturday, a Hurricane caused a detour to Wheeling in 2005.

Martinsburg failed to withstand a hailstorm of missed opportunities and high pressure caused by the Redskins' diverse offense as Hurricane blew to a 26-21 over the Bulldogs in the Class AAA first round at Cobourn Field.

It was the first time Martinsburg was ousted in the first round of the playoffs since 2000, which was also the last time it played fewer than three postseason games. The Bulldogs had played in three of the last four state finals, but failed to win the title.


"We had plenty of opportunities, but I thought we let it get away from us," said Martinsburg coach David Walker. "We had a scoring opportunity early and didn't convert and then they had that fake punt. And we had a couple of calls go against us ... but it was all stupid little things.

"It's been awhile since we have been ousted in the first round. We ended up 9-1 and now it's 9-2 and still everyone keeps talking about how we lost to Jefferson. I'd like to keep going to the finals, but somewhere it's going to stop."

The Bulldogs, the fifth seed in the 16-team field, never found a complete answer for stopping Hurricane's tight-knit offensive alignment. The Redskins (8-3) used a combination of counter and trap plays to go with an option package to keep the Bulldogs on edge defensively.

Hurricane used Martinsburg mistakes to score two touchdowns in a 3-minute, 12-second span in the third quarter and jump to a 19-7 lead and take control of the game's momentum.

"We saw them jumping around on our motion and we went to running our traps and options," said Hurricane coach Willis Mays. "I have such a great staff that saw that and made the adjustments. At first, we had to get rid of the butterflies. Once we settled down, we were a much better football team."

Martinsburg led 7-0 heading into the final minutes of the first half, about the time Hurricane started to kick up a storm.

The Redskins, who were stout defensively early by stopping Martinsburg's first drive at the 2, worked down the field before stalling with a fourth-and-4 at the Bulldogs 36. After a Martinsburg timeout, Hurricane went into punt formation, but short snapped the ball to quarterback Jared Chapman on the fake. Chapman found running back Matt Hartsog over the middle for 21 yards and a first down.

"Everyone in America knew that that was going to be a fake punt, except the 11 guys on the field," Walker said. "We called timeout to talk about it. It made sense to run it at that position on the field. We have it and practice it, but we didn't use it this season."

The play set up Chapman's 4-yard scoring strike to Vincent Cavanaugh on an under route to get Hurricane on the board at 7-6 with 17 seconds before halftime.

Hurricane used Martinsburg's misfortunes to get the lead and take control of the game in the third quarter.

First, Cameron Shelton unloaded a 3-yard punt to give the Redskins the ball at the Bulldogs 29. After a pair of penalties, Chapman cashed in with a 39-yard scoring pass on a drag pattern to Joe Lamanca for the 12-7 lead.

Hartsog picked off a Shelton pass give Hurricane the ball back at the Martinsburg 21. Shelton, the Bulldogs' normal starting quarterback, shared duties with D.J. Porter because of a hand injury he suffered in the Musselman game. Shelton was unable to practice for much of the last two weeks, moving Porter into the starting role.

Hurricane padded the lead with a five-play drive, despite taking an 8-yard loss on the first play. Bruce Collins ran a trap up the middle for 3 yards and the 19-7 lead with 6:18 to go in the third quarter, moving Martinsburg into desperation mode.

"We squandered a couple of series with three-and-outs," Walker said. "I think we scored enough points to win the game, but we can't give up so many opportunities - like that fourth-and-goal and the fake punt. We didn't make the plays that we had to make ... I don't know."

Porter hit Josh Twyman on a 15-yard TD pass - his second score of the game - on a fourth-down play on the second play of the fourth quarter to bring the Bulldogs' to within 19-14. But Hurricane answered right back by returning the kickoff to Martinsburg's 27 and running a 5:35 drive, culminating on Chapman's 1-yard keeper to up the advantage to 12 points.

Porter scored on a 7-yard scramble to bring Martinsburg within five points with 4:46 remaining, but Hurricane ran out the clock for the win.

Hurricane grounded out 274 yards of offense, including 133 yards rushing. Porter threw for 150 yards and Twyman had 79 more rushing, but the Bulldogs were stuck in a quagmire of muddled execution.

"Once we got to 19-7, our kids knew they had a chance," Mays said. "Martinsburg is a good football team, but all the credit goes to our kids. They may have wanted it a little more."

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