Hill overwhelms Mountain Ridge, 56-0
Defense smothers Miners; Swan, Askins combine for six TDs
CUMBERLAND — Unstoppable, undeniable, and just maybe unbeatable, all wrapped up in one, on a rainy Friday night at Greenway Avenue Stadium.
The Fort Hill Sentinels proved to be all three at the expense of Mountain Ridge, turning a much anticipated battle between local teams riding lengthy winning streaks into a 56-0 blowout.
“Absolutely our best performance of the year, on both sides of the ball,” said Fort Hill head coach Todd Appel.
It was full speed, non-stop, from start to finish as the unbeaten Sentinels won their eighth straight game.
They ran for 200 yards in the first quarter, scored on all five first-half possessions, had touchdowns after a blocked punt and interception, and the only possession that didn’t result in a touchdown was the final one, when quarterback Walker Appel took a knee at the Mountain Ridge seven to run out the clock.
In the end, Fort Hill led in total offense 403-39 and in first downs 19-1.
“They played so well, and whipped us in all three phases so bad ... they whipped us up front every play,” admitted Mountain Ridge coach Ryan Patterson.
Carter Swan ran 13 times for 158 yards and three touchdowns, Blake Beal had seven carries, 88 yards and a touchdown, and Braeden Askins threw a touchdown pass in the first half, and returned an interception for a touchdown and scored after blocking a punt in the second.
Meanwhile, the Fort Hill defense bottled up the area’s leading rusher, Sefa Pua’auli, by dominating the line of scrimmage. Pua’auli, averaging 214 yards per game, had no where to run, and finished with three yards on 13 carries.
“Defensively, we got after it. Our team speed really showed on defense tonight,” said Appel. “I thought we did a good job offensively tonight. We hadn’t played well offensively, I don’t think, all year. Against good teams, the most points we’ve scored was 16 points, against Southern.
“Tonight, our offense really executed well, and the kids really wanted to play this one.”
Fort Hill took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in 10 plays, with Swan scoring on a two-yard dive. He also opened the second-quarter scoring with a 35-yard burst to make it 28-0 with nearly 10 minutes left in the half.
“The big key was that our line came out and made every tackle,” Swan said. “And then our offensive line came out and blocked hard every single play and left wide holes.
“Our backs ran the ball. Our defense made tackles. We won the game.”
After the 80-yard drive to begin the game, the Sentinels scored quickly, with Tyreke Powell capping a 52-yard, five-play drive with a five-yard run, and Beal turning the corner and speeding 56 yards for a score that made it 21-0 with 3:16 left in the first.
Fort Hill had a pair of 69-yard drives in the second quarter. The first ended in Swan’s 35-yard run. The second was a 13-play march that consumed 7:21 and ended with Askins throwing a 34-yard halfback pass to Anthony Smith, making it 35-0 at halftime.
With the clock running, the second half didn’t take long, but it was long enough for Askins to block a punt and recover it in the end zone, and for Swan to break free for a 44-yard run that made it 49-0 through three quarters.
The only score of the fourth was a 32-yard interception return by Askins at the 10-minute mark. Xavier Michaels also had an interception in the second half.
Mountain Ridge, which had 14 offensive yards through three periods, got its only first down on Alec Deremer’s 14-yard pass to Jared Horsman with about three minutes left.
“Tonight, we learned where we’d like to be, and we learned where we are,” said Patterson. “And we want to finish the season strong, playoff or not, whatever, that’s out of our hands now.
“We need to mentally get better prepared. We showed up here tonight, but I think we’ve kind of been riding high lately on these wins. And you’re not going to intimidate Fort Hill. You’re not going to push them around. So, it’s back to the drawing board. That’s all we can do.”
Mountain Ridge (6-3) had a six-game winning streak snapped and will host Keyser Friday night. Fort Hill plays Allegany on Homecoming, Saturday at 12:30 p.m.