Fort Hill does it again
Sentinels stretch Homecoming streak to 11 with 38-0 romp
CUMBERLAND — There were a few surprises here and there but none at the end on a brisk Saturday afternoon at Greenway Avenue Stadium.
Fort Hill painted Homecoming bright red again, winning for the 11th straight year and finishing the regular season undefeated with a 38-0 victory over Allegany.
Blake Beal, the Offensive Player of the Game, was a perfect 6 for 6 for 98 yards and two touchdowns, and Defensive Player of the Game Colten Crabtree had 12 tackles as the Sentinels posted their second straight shutout and first at Homecoming since 36-0 in 2003.
Tyreke Powell ran for 119 yards and scored twice and Danny King set a Homecoming game record with a 50-yard field goal just before halftime in Fort Hill’s 13th straight win over Allegany.
Fort Hill (9-0) will be the No. 1 seed in the Class 1A West Region playoffs and will host No. 4 Southern (8-2) on Friday night.
“Our kids ... at the beginning of the year, a lot of people didn’t think they could be here 9-0. Then we won some games and they became overwhelming favorites. It’s funny how that happens,” Fort Hill head coach Todd Appel said. “These kids deserve so much credit. They’ve really grown; not just this year, but throughout their whole careers here.”
Beal had attempted only 23 passes over the first eight games, completing 14 for 228 yards and five touchdowns. On a sunny, windy Saturday with occasional strong gusts, he didn’t miss a throw. Two went for touchdowns, three others went for first downs and two came on big third-down plays. Another one, a 28 yarder, was brought back because of a penalty.
Throwing more wasn’t a specific Fort Hill plan. But it is always an option.
“We kind of look at what they do first, then whatever they give us, that’s what we do,” said Appel. “They were trying to take away the run so much that we needed to open it up a little bit.
“Blake did a great job. He’s come a long way. He’s really new to the quarterback position. He didn’t get many reps last year with Logan (Johnson). He’s a three-sport athlete and today on the biggest stage, I think he gained his confidence and did a great job. He made some plays happen. The throw to Braeden on third down was a big pass and a big catch by Braeden.”
Beal had 88 yards rushing last week against Mountain Ridge.
“It surprised me a little bit,” he said of the pass plays. “It’s nice to know that the coaching staff has the confidence in me to be able to go out there and execute like that. I wasn’t expecting to throw this much myself.
“During pre-game, it was scaring me a little bit, kind of blowing (the ball) around and off target and stuff,” Beal said. “It kind of died down a bit during the game. I just had to keep the confidence up and put it where it’s supposed to be. It worked out.”
In a lightning-quick first quarter, Fort Hill took the opening kickoff and went 68 yards in 15 plays and 8:13, scoring on a 2-yard run by Powell.
The lengthy drive included a pair of fourth-down conversions, the first with a bit of good fortune. On fourth-and-5 from the Allegany 40, Powell was stopped a yard short but fumbled the ball, which was scooped up by Carter Swan, who gained nine more yards on the play for the first down at the 27.
Powell ran for four yards on a fourth-and-1 at the 18, and Beal hit Anthony Smith for an 11-yard gain on third-and-nine from the 13. On the next play, Powell scored.
The third- and fourth-down plays would be one of the stories of the day. Fort Hill converted 9 of 12 third downs, even a third-and-31, and was 3 for 3 on fourth downs.
“We just didn’t hit those third down plays. They were big,” said Allegany head coach Bryan Hansel. “I thought we were there on a lot of them, but just missed some tackles. With a team like that, you have to try to take away something. If you try to take away everything, you’re not taking away anything. They’re talented. We said that they were going to have to pass to beat us.”
Allegany’s first drive, aided by a fumble recovery after a punt by Ryan O’Neal, ended on a fourth down when Wyatt Brehm stopped Jakson Bauer for a 1-yard loss at the Fort Hill 9.
The Sentinels went back to work, Beal hit Askins in stride on a 22-yard crossing route, and four plays later Swan scored on an 8-yard run on third-and-1 with 3:06 left in the half.
The Campers lost a fumble, which Swan recovered, two plays later on a run by Rashad Wingate that would have been a first down, and on the next play Beal lofted a perfect spiral to Powell, who had gotten behind the Alco secondary, for a 39-yard touchdown and in less than a minute, the lead had gone from 7-0 to 21-0.
“Our effort was there, defensively, especially,” said Hansel. Until the fourth quarter, the Campers had allowed only three rushes of more than 10 yards. “That scoreboard is not indicative of how those kids played. We had an early third-down stop, forced a fumble on fourth down, but they scooped it up. Then they got our fumble, on our own 30, after we had a first down. That kills us. You can’t give them a short field.
“So there’s 14 points off things we can’t let happen. I thought the way we were playing, at the most we could go in 17-0 at the half, get the ball at the start of the second, score and it’s 17-7 and you’re in a fight. Playing nine and 10 kids both ways, that’s what we needed.”
Instead, Fort Hill forced an Allegany punt in the final minute of the second quarter that Anthony Smith returned 30 yards to the Campers 38. Swan ran for five yards and King trotted out to try a 50-yard field goal.
If it were basketball, it would’ve been described as nothing but net.
But it was football, and he split the uprights with plenty of distance to spare.
“Just messing around this week, I saw him put one through from 62 yards,” said Beal, the holder. “He’s got a howitzer on his leg. That ball just goes and goes.”
Ten points in the final 2:08 of the first half and a 24-0 lead all but sealed things. Fort Hill hasn’t allowed a point in its last two games, Allegany hasn’t scored one.
Powell converted Fort Hill’s third-and-31 with a 65-yard run in the third quarter, and two plays later Beal hit Anthony Smith on a 9-yard touchdown pass, making it 31-0 with 3:09 left in the third. Colby Santmyire scored the final points on a 4-yard run with 5:42 left, making it 38-0.
Christian Welch led Allegany with 13 carries and 55 yards and 14 tackles, five being solos. Trevan Powell and Bauer were in on 10 tackles and O’Neal nine.