Swan, defense to victory
CUMBERLAND — Four turnovers, on just about any given night, usually spells defeat for any football team.
But Friday night wasn’t any given night, and the Fort Hill Sentinels showed again that they aren’t just any high school football team, either.
With a whole lot of Carter Swan, big plays on both sides of the ball, and the powerful foot of Danny King, the Sentinels stormed back from an early 7-0 deficit and scored 16 unanswered points for a 16-7 victory over Morgantown at Greenway Avenue Stadium.
Swan, who scored Fort Hill’s only touchdown on an 85-yard burst in the first half, finished with 23 carries and 204 yards and Braeden Askins ran 13 times for 117 yards as the Sentinels (1-0) piled up 425 yards of offense.
King booted two 32-yard field goals and another from 30, and intercepted a pass to seal things in the final minute.
The Sentinels overcame the four turnovers by forcing three themselves and coming up with big plays when needed, on offense and defense, against a team that had scored 42 points in a seven-point win over Parkersburg two weeks ago.
“They’re a tough, physical team, and big up front,” Fort Hill coach Todd Appel said of the Mohigans. “I thought defensively, we played lights out.
“Offensively, we put the ball on the ground three times and threw an interception, but we fought and played through the adversity to beat a really good team.”
The big difference offensively was the running game, with Fort Hill amassing 415 yards on 43 carries. Morgantown managed just 127 yards, with workhorse Ty Konchesky being held to less than three yards per carry, running 23 times for 60 yards.
A fumbled snap led to Morgantown’s only points. Jaden Wolfley fell on the loose ball at the Fort Hill 47, and six plays later, Preston Fox hauled in a 25-yard pass from Cameron Rice in the end zone with 4:11 left in the first quarter.
The Mohigans (1-2) looked to have thwarted Fort Hill on the first play of the second quarter when Cody Calvert recovered an Askins fumble at the Morgantown 15. But the Sentinels were back in business three plays later when Askins, after a 50-yard gain on a pass from Rice to Jackson Wolfe, smacked the ball out of Wolfe’s grasp and recovered the fumble he forced at the Fort Hill 42.
Swan galloped 32 yards on the next play, and King booted a 32-yard field goal after the drive stalled at the Mohigans 15 with 8:31 left in the half.
The rest of the way, all the big plays seemed to come up red.
The defense forced a John McConnell punt, and although it pinned the Sentinels at their own 15, they weren’t there long. On first down, Swan charged through the line and sped 85 yards for the touchdown that put Fort Hill on top to stay, and for the first time this season, 10-7 with 6:17 left in the half.
After losing a fumble on the third play of the third quarter, the Sentinels got it back when Morgantown, after having driven to the Fort Hill 9 on the strength of Rice passes to Fox and Konchesky, turned the ball over on a fumbled snap, with Isaiah Plummer recovering near the Fort Hill 25.
Askins took off on a 48-yard run, the Sentinels marched to the Morgantown 13 before settling for King’s 30-yard field goal that made it 13-7 at the 4:16 mark of the third.
The fourth Fort Hill turnover was an interception by Aaron Alvarez late in the period, and a 60-yard keeper by Rice had the Mohigans at the Fort Hill 6. Four runs netted five yards, with Konchesky being smothered for a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal from the two.
There were still a couple more big plays for the Sentinels: a sack by Wyatt Brehm on third-and-four that forced a final punt near midfield by Morgantown; a 19-yard run by Askins on third-and-2; and a 23-yard run by Blake Beal on second-and-13 that led to King’s 32-yarder that made it 16-7 with 1:50 to go.
King, after booting the kickoff into the end zone, picked off a Rice pass on the next play to seal the win.
Fort Hill hosts Reginald Lewis Friday evening.