Homecoming 1997


Uhl: 'The ball just hit me in the chest and that's all I remember'
Mike Burke
Cumberland Times-News
November 9, 1997

CUMBERLAND - George Uhl saw David Miller try to spin away from Tommy Welsh at about the eight-yard line. Then he saw a football coming right toward him. It was an opportunity too good for the Fort Hill defensive tackle to pass up.

"Tommy (Welsh) caused the fumble, and the way Miller runs had something to do with it too," Uhl said Saturday in the victorious Fort Hill locker room after the Sentinels' 14-7 win over Allegany. "He tries to get every extra yard he can. But then the ball just hit me in the chest and that's all I remember."

Uhl's fumble recovery with 5:47 left in the game was critical as the Campers had taken the ball at their three-yard line and, behind the running of Miller, marched 89 yards on 11 plays. They seemed unstoppable and were on the verge of cutting Fort Hill's lead to one point.

"They had been running a tight slot in the first half," said Fort Hill head coach Mike Calhoun. "Then they went end-over with a tight slot to give them a bubble to work with from the center to the tackle."

"They stung us with it, no question. And David Miller is a helluva running back."

"We knew sooner or later we'd come up with a big play," said Welsh, who finished the game with eight tackles. "We watched film all week and Allegany has had some trouble holding onto the ball. So we figured sooner or later we'd get one."

From its three, Fort Hill moved out of the jam and put this most recent battle of unbeatens to rest with an 11-play drive. Quarterback Josh Grove took a knee at the Allegany 35 as time ran out.

During the drive, halfback Noah Read converted a third-and-six into a first down with a 24-yard gain from his five, and fullback Josh Page picked up firsts with a seven-yard gainer on fourth-and-one from the Fort Hill 38, and a two-yard gain on third-and-one from the Alco 46.

"It's a great feeling to beat Allegany, particularly this year," said Page, who was voted Offensive Player of the Game for the second straight year. "It's an honor to receive that award but the credit should go to my offensive line. They do a great job."

"We had a few key fumbles to keep them in it, but Allegany gave us the kind of game we expected. You know Homecoming. Everybody's pumped up. But Allegany is a team. They are the definition of a team. They play hard and they play together and I have great respect for Miller. He's the hardest runner we've faced all year."

It was Fort Hill who seemed unstoppable in the first half (222 rushing yards on 26 carries) and on its previous offensive series as the Sentinels took the ball to the Allegany one, going 44 yards on 11 plays after a Read interception.

But on third down, less than a foot away from the end zone, Grove and Welsh failed to mesh on a handoff with Allegany forcing and then recovering the ball with 11:56 left in the game. Tackle Jimmy Hilton came up with the ball.

"Josh got hit," said Welsh. "The hole was there, but a linebacker - either (Kenny) Watkins or (Chris) Appel came up and made the play before Josh could get the ball to me. It wasn't Josh's fault, it wasn't my fault. It was just a good football play by the Allegany linebacker."

Calhoun agreed. "It was a great play by the Allegany linebacker," he said. "We didn't handle the stunt and they forced the turnover. Their linebackers - Watkins and Appel - are a load."

"This is a big one," said split end Mike Page. "It's our senior year and we have bragging rights again. It was a good game, which is what we expected from Allegany. It was a great game, because we won it."