Martinsburg manhandles Fort Hill
Steve Luse
Cumberland Times-News
October 25, 2003

Sowers throws for three scores in Martinsburg's 41-2 victory

CUMBERLAND - An overflow crowd estimated at nearly 8,000 fans got to see what has to rank as one of the best visiting teams to step into Greenway Avenue Stadium as Martinsburg overwhelmed Fort Hill in a battle of unbeatens on Friday night.

The Bulldogs' all-state quarterback Nate Sowers completed his first 10 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns on a perfect fall night for football as Martinsburg scored on its first four possessions in rolling to its ninth win of the season. The victory puts the Bulldogs in control of claiming their third straight Cumberland Valley Athletic League championship with a 3-0 mark with one regular season game remaining at Musselman.

It was the first loss in eight games for Fort Hill and the Sentinels close their CVAL slate with a 3-1 mark.

Sowers, 6-foot 1, 195-pound junior, finished the night with 20 completions in 23 attempts for 228 yards and three touchdowns to give him 33 on the season. He also led the Bulldogs in rushing with 69 yards on 11 carries and set up a touchdown with a 19-yard run.

Last season's West Virginia Player of the Year Brandon Barrett caught 11 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns and also ran 15 yards for a touchdown. Mark Redmond hauled in four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.

The Martinsburg defense, led by Donyea Bennett and Carl Redman, held Fort Hill to only 119 yards in total offense and four first downs.

"You can never envision players doing some of the things we did and I'm very proud of the way our players stepped up to the challenge," said Martinsburg coach. " Fort Hill has a great team with a great tradition and this is a tough place to play. Some people questioned whether we could stop the run and our defense really played well."

Fort Hill coach Barry Lattimer knew his team was going to have to control the ball on the ground to have any chance at all and the Sentinels were never able to get anything going.

"They're a great team and just have so many weapons," said Lattimer. "They were making great moves and when they caught the ball we couldn't tackle them. They were so much bigger than us and just overwhelmed us up front."

The Bulldogs, who entered the game averaging 53 points, gave an indication of what was in store for the Sentinels after taking the opening kickoff. Sowers completed his first five passes for 40 yards and then went 19 yards on a draw play to the one. Carl Redman blasted into the end zone to complete the 8-play, 54-yard drive with 8:08 left in the first quarter Jeremiah Johnson kicked the extra point.

Barrett, who now has 65 career touchdown catches, started the next drive with a 21-yard run and completed it on a 28 yard pass from Sowers with 2:25 left in the opening quarter.

Martinsburg made it 20-0 at the 10:18 mark in the second quarter as Sowers found Richmond with the 18 yard scoring strike. He also hit Barrett for 36 yards in the drive. Johnson kicked the extra point.

"Our receivers get open and that has been our strength all year," said Sowers. "All I have to do is get the ball to them and good things happen. We just took what they gave us."

Redman blocked a Fort Hill punt and Adrian Hawkins pounced on the ball at the Sentinels' 15. On the next play, Barrett took the ball on the reverse and used his great speed to go untouched for the touchdown with 7:56 still remaining in the first half. Sowers passed to Haskins for the two points and the 28-0 lead.

The Sentinels then threatened to get on the board when Branden Giffin found tight end Denny Hockman open down field for a 51 yard gain to the Martinsburg four yard line. The Bulldogs then stuffed four runs to take over at the one.

Fort Hill scored its only points when a low snap to Sowers got past him and out of the end zone for the safety with 3:48 left in the half.

Martinsburg took a 34-6 halftime lead when Sowers connected with Barrett again on a three yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left. Sowers completed 6-of-7 passes for all 64 yards in the drive.

The Bulldogs never had to punt but a 35 yard field goal attempt by Johnson sailed wide on their first possession of the second half. A six yard run by Brannon Hamilton and Johnson's kick concluded the scoring with 1:45 left in the third quarter and kept the clock running the rest of the game under the 35-point rule.

Fort Hill will be playing at Southern on Friday night.