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Bulldogs live up to expectations to earn trip back to 'Island'

November 26, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Great expectations are nothing unless you expect greatness.

The Martinsburg football team will settle for nothing else than everything. The Bulldogs entered the 2011 season with Wheeling or bust on their back bumpers. Next Saturday, they will be there.

Martinsburg, the defending West Virginia Class AAA champion, took care of business by overpowering Morgantown in the second half. Quarterback Brandon Ashenfelter ran for 119 yards and threw for another 196 and a touchdown in a 38-14 state semifinal victory over the Mohicans on Saturday at Coubourn Field.

Ashenfelter had the most significant statistics, but it was truly a total-team win by the experienced Bulldogs (13-0). In fact, five different players scored touchdowns — including one on an interception return — and Martinsburg recovered two critical fumbles the make it their game.

It’s just what they expected.

“They came up with some good plays and Brandon played like he always does,” said Martinsburg coach David Walker. “It was a good performance. After last year, the guys who came back from last year wanted to win another title. They aren’t in shock. They’re not in awe. This is what they expected.”

It has become commonplace for Martinsburg, which has won 27 straight games. If the Bulldogs defeat George Washington in next week’s title game, they will have finished two consecutive undefeated seasons.

“We’re going back to the Island,” Ashenfelter yelled to his teammates, referring to Wheeling Island where the Super Six finals are held. The senior made sure to help punch the Bulldogs’ ticket.

Walker called on Ashenfelter to run the ball a little more than normal against Morgantown (10-3). It came in handy since the Mohicans bottled up tailback Chris Perkins for most of the game and controlled the ‘Dogs’ passing game in the first half. Martinsburg played much of the game without top receiver Cedric Brown, who was injured while running back the opening kickoff.

“I’m more of a pocket passer,” Ashenfelter said. “(Morgantown) wasn’t used to seeing running quarterbacks. Coach came over and told me that I was going to run more this week. I just got ready for it. My line blocked well and opened up holes. We executed well.”

The ground game was on display in Martinsburg’s opening drive as nine of the 11 plays were runs and led to an opening touchdown on a 13-yard jaunt by Perkins to finish a 59-yard drive for a 7-0 lead.  Ashenfelter ran for 22 yards on the drive, while Perkins had 24 of his 46 for the game.

Morgantown drove right back down the field on the ensuing kickoff, but missed the chance to tie the game when Chazzy Thomas fumbled the ball at the 1, which was recovered by Martinsburg’s Gary Awkard.

The Bulldogs managed a 24-yard field goal by Tyler DeHaven with 38 seconds remaining in the half to give Martinsburg a 10-0 halftime lead.

The game switched dramatically at the start of the second half. Martinsburg’s defense shifted gears and Morgantown provided the gas.

On the second play of the half, running back Tim Prince fumbled a handoff at Morgantown’s 47, which was recovered by Perkins.

“I just thought we could control the game physically,” Walker said. “These were two good teams, but we were the better team. Our defense spoils us. We gave up two scores that we shouldn’t have, but they played really well.”

The Bulldogs went up 17-0 on a 5-yard run by Brown on an option pitch for a 17-0 lead at the 9:44 mark of the third quarter.

Martinsburg helped Morgantown get down field with two unsportsmanlike penalties, ending in a 9-yard run by Thomas to get the Mohicans to within 17-7.

The Bulldogs answered immediately as Ashenfelter found Chad Skye in the end zone on a fourth-and-11 play for a 34-yard touchdown pass. But the lead still wasn’t safe as Kevin Minehart ran back the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown as Morgantown counterpunched to make the score 24-14.

The Bulldogs took over the rest of the way.

Justin Arndt scored from the 1 to open the fourth quarter after Perkins executed a fake punt with a 33-yard pass to David Long for a first-and-goal at the 1. Darian Patterson capped the game by returning an interception of quarterback Mark Johnson 36 yards for a touchdown to complete the 24-point victory and make reservations for the trip to Wheeling.

“There is only one more door left and it’s in front of us,” Walker said.

Martinsburg ran up 563 yards of offense with a balanced attack of 234 yards rushing and 229 passing.

The Bulldogs held Morgantown to 165 yards for the game, including just 50 yards in the second half. Martinsburg had defeated Morgantown 33-0 earlier in the season.

Now, all that’s left for the Bulldogs is to get the greatest of expectations.

“This is a great accomplishment,” Ashenfelter said. “We have to stay humble and have a good week in practice to get ready to go back and do what we did last season again.”

Martinsburg 38, Morgantown 14
Morgantown    0    0    14    0    —    14
Martinsburg        7    3    14    14    —    38
First Quarter
Ma — Chris Perkins 13 run (Tyler DeHven kick)
Second Quarter
Ma — DeHaven 24 field goal
Third Quarter
Ma — Cedric Brown 5 run (DeHaven kick)
Mo — C. Thomas 9 run (Kevin Minehart kick)
Ma — Chad Skye 34 pass from Brandon Ashenfelter (DeHaven kick)
Mo — Minehart 80 kickoff return (Minehart kick)
Fourth Quarter
Ma — Justin Arndt 1 run (DeHaven kick)
Ma — Darian Patterson 36 interception return (DeHaven kick)
    Mo    Ma
First downs    10    19    
Rushes-yards    28-91    49-234
Passing yards    87    229
Comp.-Att.-Int    7-11-1    9-14-1
Totals yardage    39-165    63-563
Fumbles-lost        2-2    1-0
Punts-avg.    3-38.6    0-0.0
Penalties-yards    4-36    7-60
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing — Morgantown: Thomas 4-25, Hamilton 7-20, Prince 4-19, C. Thomas 4-12, Team 1-6, Weidman 2-5, Johnson 4-5, Leone 1-(-3); Martinsburg: Ashenfelter 17-119, Arndt 9-55, Perkins 18-46, Brown 2-13, Vanorsdale 1-4, Team 2-(-3).
Passing — Morgantown: Johnson 7-11-1 87; Martinsburg: Ashenfelter 8-13-1 196, Perkins 1-1-0 33.
Receiving — Morgantown: Stewart 4-47, Minehart 2-13, Cottrell 1-4; Martinsburg: Arndt 3-60, Long 2-43, Watkins 1-71, Sky 1-34, Brown 1-13, Perkins 1-8.

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