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Leopards turn over keys to Fort Hill win with turnovers

November 18, 2007|By TIM KOELBLE

CUMBERLAND, Md. - The final score of Saturday's Maryland Class 1A West contest flashes images that Fort Hill simply crushed Smithsburg in all facets of the game.

It wasn't further from the truth. Instead, the Leopards were sent packing in a 45-0 loss to the Sentinels at Greenway Avenue Stadium to finish at 9-2 while Fort Hill moves forward to meet Allegany for the region title on Friday.

Smithsburg provided Fort Hill with plenty of purple-ribbon gift wrapping, starting throughout the first half, less than five minutes into the game to fall behind 31-0.

"You give up (the ball) on two quick turnovers and bang-bang, you're down 14-0," said Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff.

Matt Plumbley made two fine defensive stops for the Leopards on the Sentinels' first possession to force what became Levi Mallow's only punt.

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"The first time (Fort Hill) has the football you stop them and you're doing cartwheels," said Orndorff.

It began to unravel when Kevin Kocsis elected to field the punt with defenders on his flanks and fumbled to Fort Hill, which regained possession at Smithsburg's 20. Two plays later, quarterback Matt Smith found Jordan Helmick on a 19-yard scoring pass and Mallow booted the first of six PATs.

"That might have been a bad choice," said Orndorff. "(Kevin) should have fair caught the ball."

Smithsburg's next possession was eventful for Fort Hill. Eric Howser intercepted Bryan Faulders' 3rd-and-6 pass and raced 26 yards untouched for a score.

Faulders was intercepted again on the first play of the second quarter, this one by Gary Henry at the Leopards 47. Fort Hill used 5-foot-7, 239-pound Scott Rice for five straight plays, the last resulting in a 17-yard run around left end with 9:48 remaining in the half.

Turnover No. 4 came on the next possession when Bobby Smith fumbled at the Fort Hill 42. It set up a 35-yard run by Corey Taylor before a 4-yard burst by Rice for a 28-0 lead. It rose to 31-0 when Mallow connected on a 39-yard field goal with 58 seconds left in the half.

"We worked on our defense and in particular on our special teams and I think that showed," said Fort Hill coach Barry Lattimer. "Our special teams put us in the short field."

Fort Hill opened the second half with its lone drive of the day, marching 64 yards in six plays, capped when Smith hit Taylor on a screen pass that went for a touchdown and a 38-0 lead.

The Sentinels scored a fourth-quarter touchdown when Dakota Welsh scored from the 5 after Plumbley fumbled a reception at the Smithsburg 17.

"It just wasn't meant to be our day," said Orndorff. "I (told Barry) I wish we would have shown up. (Fort Hill) lines up in that 6-2 defense, they make no adjustments ... we just didn't do a thing."

Smithsburg failed to unleash a consistent offense. The Leopards rushed for only 71 yards, while Faulders was 5 of 14 for 55 yards in the air. Bobby Smith had 29 yards rushing on nine efforts and Erick Parker had five yards on six tries.

"Our kids played hard all year and got us here and this was a nice experience for them," said Orndorff.

Fort Hill netted 252 total yards with Rice running for 71 yards on 11 carries.

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