MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — At a glance, Martinsburg’s 46-7 win over Huntington in the West Virginia Class AAA football quarterfinals on Saturday at Cobourn Field looks like just another easy victory.
But the Bulldogs showed that they haven’t won 26 straight games without putting in some hard work and a little extra effort.
“This is a hard-working group of kids,” said Martinsburg coach David Walker. “I think we played pretty well up front today, and when the (ball carriers) needed to work through something, they made some great plays for us.”
The Bulldogs (12-0) play host to Morgantown in the semifinal round next weekend. The Mohigans (10-2) beat Parkersburg South 45-22 on Friday night.
Martinsburg rolled up 347 yards offensively, including 252 yards on the ground. Chris Perkins led the way with 97 yards, Justin Arndt had 71 and Brandon Ashenfelter added 63.
All three players ran for touchdowns — Perkins had two — but only Perkins’ second touchdown run, a 1-yarder in the third quarter, could have been considered routine.
Ashenfelter delivered first for the Bulldogs. On a third-and 4 play from the Huntington 35, the quarterback called his own number. As he headed up the middle, he shook off one tackle, then jumped to avoid two others as he reached paydirt to give Martinsburg a 6-0 lead.
He celebrated by taking about half of a lap around the track in front of the Martinsburg crowd, imploring the fans to get excited. But after a Huntington penalty on the point after moved the ball inside the 2-yard line, Ashenfelter had to sprint back onto the field for a two-point conversion try. He handed off to Arndt, who bulled his way into the end zone for an 8-0 Martinsburg lead.
Later in the first quarter, it was Arndt’s turn. Leading 15-0 with the Huntington 6, Arndt took a handoff and was hit at the line of scrimmage. But he stayed upright, backpedaled his way to the 2, where he pivoted and stumbled in for the score. Another 2-point conversion made it 23-0 with 2:24 still to go in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Perkins put the Bulldogs up 36-0 with a 35-yard run of his own that was nearly stopped for a loss. Perkins ran around right end, but was met behind the line by a Huntington defender. But Perkins had enough leverage to push through that tackle before breaking out of two other attempts and into the clear for the score.
Between those scores, there was Cedric Brown, who returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, then caught a 31-yard touchdown pass in stride from Ashenfelter in the second quarter.
Tyler DeHaven kicked a 37-yard field goal to complete the scoring for Martinsburg.
Meanwhile, the Martinsburg defense did what it has done all season — shut down opposing offenses. The Bulldogs allowed just 55 points in their first 11 games and appeared to be headed toward their seventh shutout of the season.
The Bulldogs held the Highlanders (8-4) to 82 yards and three first downs in the first half. Huntington managed just 148 yards on the day and scored their only points with 33 seconds remaining in the game.
“We’ve been very good defensively all year,” Walker said. “I hope we can keep it up and play like we have been, because next week is going to be a big test for us. We’re going to have to step it up.”
Martinsburg 46, Huntington 7
Huntington 0 0 0 7 — 7
Martinsburg 23 13 7 3 — 46
M — Brandon Ashenfelter 35 run (Justin Arndt run)
M — Cedric Brown 55 punt return (Tyler DeHaven kick)
M — Arndt 6 run (DeHaven pass from Jake Mills)
M — Brown 31 pass from Ashenfelter (kick failed)
M — Chris Perkins 35 run (DeHaven kick)
M — Perkins 1 run (DeHaven kick)
M — FG 37 DeHaven
H — Nick Tubbs 1 run (Zach Stevens kick)
First downs 7 15
Rushes-yards 37-103 44-252
Passing yards 45 95
Comp-Att-Int 3-13-2 8-16-0
Total offense 50-148 60-347
Punts-avg. 5-32.0 3-37.7
Penalties-yards 11-78 10-90
Fumbles-lost 4-2 2-2
RUSHING—Huntington, Tubbs 4-4, King 6-9, Christian 9-37, Shaver 6-4, Crawford 7-29, Thompson 4-15, Team 1-5. Martinsburg, Perkins 17-97, Ashenfelter 8-63, Arndt 9-71, Vanorsdale 3-6, Watkins 4-(minus-2), Brown 2-18, Miller 1-(minus-1).
PASSING—Huntington, Shaver 3-13-2-45. Martinsburg, Ashenfelter 8-16-0-95.
RECEIVING—Huntington, Hayes 1-27, King 1-10, Rutherford 1-8. Martinsburg, Brown 6-81, Watkins 2-14.