Fort Hill pulls out 12-7 thriller over Allegany
Cumberland Times-News
November 7, 1993

CUMBERLAND - With the terrible muddy conditions on the Greenway Avenue Stadium making both teams very equal it became obvious that one big play could make the difference in the annual Homecoming battle between Fort Hill and Allegany Saturday afternoon.

Brandon Walker scored his second touchdown with 1:22 left and Shannon Trimble followed with an interception to finally nail down the victory as the Fort Hill High Sentinels edged Allegany 12-7 in the down-to-the-wire thriller.

But the big play the Sentinels needed to keep their post-season playoff hopes alive came with 4:42 left in the game when Allegany was called for roughing Fort Hill punter Ryan Shaffer.

The Campers, who played outstanding defense the entire game, had forced the Sentinels into a fourth down with seven yards to go punting situation at their own 45-yard line. The snap on the punt sailed over Shaffer's head but the gutsy junior was able to run down the ball and still get off the kick before being hit by the Allegany defenders.

The penalty gave Fort Hill a first down at the Allegany 40-yard line with the Campers still clinging to a 7-6 lead.

"Now they know how I felt in 1991 (a 20-17 Fort Hill loss on a controversial call)," said Fort Hill coach Mike Calhoun. "The rule is if a punter re-establishes himself as a punter you can't rough him. He had clearly re-established himself as the punter."

"It was a great heady play on his (Shaffer's) part," added the Sentinels' coach. "It took a lot of poise to get himself together and get that punt off."

Following the Allegany penalty it became Walker time.

Walker, who entered the game with 1,266 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns, was handed the ball eight straight plays as the Sentinels plowed their way to the seven-yard line.

Fort Hill quarterback Gavin Palumbo, who struggled with the field conditions all day, then went two yards on a sneak to set up a fourth-down situation with less than a yard to go at the five. Instead of attempting a field goal that would have given the Sentinels a two-point lead Calhoun elected to go for the short yardage.

Walker was given the ball again and this time went outside, around the left end, for the five yards and the touchdown. The touchdown not only gave Fort Hill the win, but also earned the 5-11, 187-pound senior Offensive Player of the Game honors.

"The difference in the game was the roughing-the-kicker penalty," said Walker, who finished with 161 yards on 27 carries. "That got us fired up and we drove it down their throats."

On Allegany's first play after the Fort Hill kickoff, Trimble picked off a long B.J. AuMiller pass and returned the ball 63 yards to the Campers' 27-yard line. Palumbo then knelt down to run out the clock on the Fort Hill win.

"It was everything I though it was going to be," said Calhoun. "I knew it was going down to the wire...Let me tell you something: Allegany is a good team. Let's give Allegany some credit for playing a great game."

The Sentinels, ranked No. 1 in the Times-News area poll, lifted their record to 9-1 and were still waiting word Saturday night on whether they officially nailed down one of the Maryland Class 2A playoff berths. Damascus claimed the West Region championship with a 21-6 victory over Blair Friday night and Fort Hill was hoping to get one of the four at-large spots. The Sentinels were seventh entering the Homecoming clash.

Allegany showed that it may have had one of the better Class 2A teams in the state but concluded the campaign with a 4-6 record against the toughest schedule the school has ever faced.

The Campers' defense led by Defensive Player of the Game Gabe Darber, did an outstanding job of slowing down a Fort Hill offense that was averaging 42 points a game. And until that final drive it appeared Allegany's big play was going to be the difference.

Allegany threatened early on its second possession and moved to Fort Hill 17-yard line as Michael Fields broke loose on a big 35-yard run. But Campers gave up the ball on a fumble as Aaron Goetz recovered for the Sentinels at the 26-yard line.

Fort Hill moved to the Allegany 16-yard line on a 43 yard run by Walker, but turned the ball over on downs when Darber sacked Palumbo for a two-yard loss.

The Sentinels got the ball back at the Campers' 33-yard line after a seven-yard punt return by Trimble and a 15-yard personal foul penalty for a late hit.

Four straight carries by Walker moved the ball to the 19-yard line and Palumbo hit Noel Adams for 11 yards and a first down at the eight-yard line.

After an incompletion and a one yard loss by Palumbo on a roll out play, Walker went nine yards up the middle for the touchdown with 6:58 left in the second quarter.

Two five-yard penalties forced the Sentinels to try a 30-yard kick for the extra point and Shaffer's attempt sailed wide.

Allegany coach Jack Gilmore then pulled out the bag of tricks that he is always reluctant to use and put the Campers in an offensive formation that had three receivers on one side and another man in motion that resulted in five receivers being out for a pass.

After an incomplete pass on the first play from the formation, AuMiller found Munjo Walker wide open down the middle on third down. The play ended up covering 80 yards and Tate Humbertson's kick gave Allegany the 7-6 lead with 5:27 left in the second period.

Jason Shook intercepted a Palumbo pass for Allegany in the third quarter and the teams traded fumbles in the middle of the fourth quarter with D.J. Jenkins recovering one for Fort Hill and Matt Gilmore getting the ball right back for the Campers.

Darber, a 5-10, 170-pound senior, had 11 tackles to lead the Allegany defense. Fields also had some big plays and finished with nine tackles.

Leading the Fort Hill defense that held Allegany without a first down in the second half was senior linebacker R.J. Stafford, who had nine tackles. Walker also had a strong defensive game with six tackles.