Homecoming 1997


Fort Hill holds on, wins 14-7
Uhl's fumble recovery halts Allegany drive
Steve Luse
Cumberland Times-News
November 9, 1997

CUMBERLAND - With a rained-soaked muddy field that had fumble written all over it, turnovers became the big plays in the annual Fort Hill-Allegany Homecoming Game Saturday at Greenway Avenue Stadium.

After keeping Allegany's hopes alive with two fumbles in the second and fourth quarters, Fort Hill got the biggest turnover of the game when George Uhl pounced on a Campers' fumble at the Sentinels three-yard line with 5:46 left. That fumble recovery stopped a 94-yard Allegany drive and helped Fort Hill hold on for the 14-7 victory in the battle of unbeaten teams.

The victory sends Fort Hill into the Maryland Class 2A playoffs for the sixth straight year top-seeded as the West Region champion with a 10-0 mark and three state records. The Sentinels will be hosting a first-round game on Friday or Saturday night.

Allegany remains on top in the State Class 1A West Region ratings despite the loss with a 9-1 record and will also be hosting a playoff game this coming weekend at Greenway.

"Taling about the field conditions is probably a cop out. It was a great homecoming game and it was a shame somebody had to lose," said Fort Hill coach Mike Calhoun. "Honestly there were no losers out there today and I would say that if we would have lost the game."

It marks the 12th time that Fort Hill has finished a regular season unbeaten to become the all-time state leader in that category. The Sentinels have scored 449 points for the most in the state during a 10-game schedule, and the 358 yards they gained on the ground give them the state record for the season with 3,985 yards rushing.

Senior fullback Josh Page rushed for 158 yards on 26 carries and scored one touchdown in capturing the Offensive Player of the Game honors. Noah Read ran for the other Fort Hill touchdown and gained 134 yards on only 13 carries.

Allegany's senior fullback David Miller kept the Campers alive with an 11-yard run for their only touchdown late in the first half and had everybody on the edge of the seat with his running in the late drive to the Fort Hill three-yard line before the fumble

It looked like neither the muddy field nor the Allegany defense was going to stop the explosive Fort Hill offense. But one fumble led to the Allegany touchdown and another kept the Sentinels from scoring one that would have iced the game at the start of the fourth quarter.

"With the explosiveness of our offense it doesn't make me happy to play on a field in that condition," said Calhoun. "But in the mud things like that happen and Allegany took advantage of it to stay in the game. I thought the field was pretty good at the beginning, but it kept getting worse."

Getting the ball at their own 20-yard line after a 47-yard punt by Allegany's Ryan Ackerson for their first possession, the Sentinels needed just eight plays to go the 80 yards. Josh Grove hit Mike Page for 10 yards on the first play with his only pass of the game. Josh Page and Read then started showing their running skills.

Read got outside for a big 36-yard run to the one-yard line and the 6-3, 220-pound Page blasted for his 22nd touchdown of the season with 6:37 left in the quarter. Ben Lapp kicked the extra point.

The Sentinels then forced the Campers to punt again after just three running plays and started this time at their own 17. They drove 73 yards on eight plays with a time-consuming drive before Lapp was wide left on a 27-yard field goal attempt.

Once again Allegany couldn't move the ball for a first down and Ackerson's punt gave Fort Hill the ball back at its own 40-yard line. Senior Trae Foster, who had 52 yards on only five carries, broke loose on a 32-yard run on the first down. Three straight runs by Josh Page up the middle gained 16 yards and then Read went around the left side for 12 yards and the touchdown with 8:16 left in the second quarter. Lapp's kick made it 14-0.

The Campers then got their initial first down on a pass interference penalty with 4:45 left in the half, but were forced to punt again after only six plays.

Then came a play that kept the drama in the game. On second down at Fort Hill's own 22-yard line Grove lost the handle on the snap from center and David Aydelotte recovered the ball at the 19 for Allegany.

Three straight carries by Miller set up a fourth-and-two situation at the 11-yard line. Allegany coach Tim Kane then decided to go for the first down instead of the field goal and on the next play Miller went up the middle almost untouched for the touchdown with 50 seconds left in the half. Peter Angman kicked the extra point.

Fort Hill was forced to punt for the first time on the first possession of the second half and it appeared the momentum was swinging toward Allegany.

After getting a first down at the Fort Hill 41-yard line on two Miller runs, Allegany quarterback Jeremy Strother hit Miller with a pass for 13 yards. But an Allegany player was called for unsportsmanlike taunting on the play and the Campers were moved back to the 46-yard line. On the next play Read picked off a Strother pass and returned the ball 20 yards to the Allegany 45-yard line.

Then with Tommy Welsh spelling Josh Page at fullback the Sentinels used up the rest of the third quarter with 11 plays as they moved to the Campers' one-yard line. But then Welsh lost the ball going for the touchdown and Jim Hilton came up with the recovery for Allegany at the three-yard line.

Miller, a 5-10, 170-pound senior, was ready to take advantage of the break and quickly got Allegany out of the hole with a 34-yard run as Mike Page had a touchdown-saving tackle for Fort Hill. After a two-yard run by Miller, Nik Gates got another first down with a 10-yard run to midfield.

From then on it was Miller time as the Allegany fullback was handed the ball nine straight times. But with a first down at the seven-yard line he took a hard hit trying to get through the middle of the Fort Hill line and the fumble was recovered by Uhl at the three.

A big 25-yard run by Read brought the Sentinels away from their goal line and they were able to run the clock out with 12 running plays.

"They dominated the first half and we controlled the second half," said Allegany's first-year coach Tim Kane. "If we would have only had to go 95 yards instead of 97 we would have scored. Does a loss like this build character? I hope so."

Senior linebacker Chris Appel had some big stops to help slow Fort Hill down and was named Defensive Player of the Game after leading the Campers with eight tackles. Chris Golliday also had a strong game with six tackles.

Welsh led the Fort Hill defense with eight tackles, whole Ricky Jenkins and Travis Broll had four each.