Fort Hill blasts Havre de Grace
Undefeated Sentinels advance to sixth straight state championship game 43-6

Nov 25, 2018

CUMBERLAND — Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow stopped the Fort Hill Sentinels, who delivered in a big way again on a cold Saturday afternoon at Greenway Avenue Stadium.

Carter Swan and Tyreke Powell combined for 247 yards rushing and four touchdowns, and the defense’s four takeaways nearly matched Havre de Grace’s number of first downs in a 43-6 rout in their Class 1A state semifinal.

The win sends Fort Hill to the state championship game for the sixth straight year. The second-seeded Sentinels are the only unbeaten team remaining in Class 1A as top-seeded and defending state champion Dunbar fell to Douglass of Prince George’s County 20-6 in the other semifinal.

Fort Hill (12-0) will play Douglass (8-4) for the state title on Saturday, at 3:30 p.m., at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis.

“I feel thankful, and blessed,” Fort Hill coach Todd Appel said of a sixth straight trip to the championship game. They are 4-1 in the previous five. “And if you would have asked me that at the beginning of the year, I’d probably be shocked. Collectively, these guys really came together as a team and I am extremely proud of them.”

Swan ran 21 times for a game-high 141 yards and two touchdowns and Powell ran 16 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns for Fort Hill, which led 15-0 after the first quarter and 22-0 at halftime. In three postseason games, the Sentinels have outscored their opponents by a 157-20 margin.

Havre de Grace (10-3) hurt itself with 68 penalty yards in the first quarter, turned the ball over four times, and had several poor snaps lead to big losses and minus-51 yards on the ground. They had no first downs rushing and five total first downs for the game.

“They were probably the biggest athletic team that we’ve faced so far, and I think the best team we’ve faced so far,” said Appel.

“We told the kids going into the game, ‘the rain’s going to be a factor. It’s a wet weather game, possible snow game, and we needed to hold onto the ball and cause them to put it on the ground.’ And our kids did exactly that. They held onto the ball and we took the ball away from them several times.”

Powell and Braeden Askins had interceptions and Swan and Davian Little recovered fumbles in leading an attacking defense that made 15 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Fort Hill took the opening kickoff and, after a holding penalty, went 78 yards in nine plays with Blake Beal scoring on a 1-yard sneak. Swan ran four times for 42 yards, including a 19-yarder on a third-and-2 from the 29, during the series.

Wyatt Brehm, whose batted pass nearly led to a turnover on Havre de Grace’s first play, had the hit of the day seven plays later. He slammed into Brandon Rabbitt as soon as he took a handoff, forcing a fumble that Swan pounced on at the Warriors’ 34.

The play came after Fort Hill had been stopped on a fourth-and-1, and four plays later, Powell rounded the corner and, following blocks by Askins and Austin Burt, went 20 yards for a touchdown. Beal hit Brehm for two points and a 15-0 lead with 3:39 left in the first quarter.

A Colten Crabtree sack led to a punt and the next score, a 3-yarder by Swan that made it 22-0 with 5:22 left in the half. Powell had 15- and 11-yard runs and Askins a 25-yarder during the drive.

Powell went over the 100-yard mark on his first carry of the second half, a 30-yard run early in the period. Later, Swan ran 31 yards to the six and scored on another 3-yard burst that extended the lead to 36-0.

Fort Hill finished with 48 carries and 330 yards rushing.

“They had good size,” Powell said of the Warriors, “but when you’re coached well and you get down on the hip, you can move whatever ... 300, 400, 600 pounds. It doesn’t matter. And that’s what our line did today.”

Swan was just as complimentary of center Hunter Jacobs, guards Austin Burt and Jakobe Jackson, tackles Trey Bishop and Liam Moran and tight end Brehm.

“I think they deserve an A-plus now. They block hard every game. That’s what they do. They just come out and block their butts off. They leave big holes and we run through them.”

Quarterback Alex Gresock completed 10 of 25 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown for Havre de Grace. The touchdown came on a 57-yard screen pass to Jordan White (3 catches, 117 yards), making it 36-6 with 3:46 remaining.

Havre de Grace’s Tony Bowman recovered an onside kick, but Isaiah Plummer and Davian Little got the ball back on the very next play for Fort Hill, with Plummer getting a sack and forcing the fumble and Little getting the recovery.

Three plays later, Colby Santmyire scored on a 13-yard run to make it 43-6 with 2:43 to go, capping the year’s final game at Greenway and setting the stage for a sixth straight trip to the state final.