puts Sentinels in semifinals
Nov 23, 2019
CUMBERLAND — Fort Hill had just about everything going right for it on Friday night. With it, the Sentinels earned a 53-14 win over Randallstown, the 700th victory in school history and a trip to the state semifinals for the seventh time in a row.
Fort Hill (11-1) only outgained the Rams (8-4) 286-236, but the Sentinels blocked two punts, recovered a pair of fumbles and intercepted a pass as five of their eight drives started in Randallstown territory — one of the drives that didn’t started at the Fort Hill 49 and another began at the Sentinel 30, with Breven Stubbs scoring two plays later on a 58-yard scamper. The Sentinels also took advantage of 11 penalties by the Rams that covered 95 yards.
“Randallstown is a very good football team,” said Fort Hill head coach Todd Appel. “You heard the score for them last week beating Gwynn Park (29-16), you knew they were going to be reckoned with. And when you watch their film, defensively they’re pretty special. And they run the ball well.
“We got some turnovers on defense. They were miscues, but we like to think we cause a lot of those miscues by moving our kids around on the defensive fronts and causing bad snaps and causing fumbles and things like that, which gave us really good field position tonight. Then our offense capitalized on that good field position. So, all in all, it was a good night and I feel very fortunate to be part of this Fort Hill football organization and very blessed.”
Stubbs led the Sentinel ball carriers with 99 yards on five attempts with two touchdowns. Colby Santmyire had 10 rushes for 79 yards and a score and Carson Snyder had a team-high in carries with 12 to go along with 56 yards and a pair of TDs.
Fort Hill had little trouble moving the ball on its first drive. Lining up for its fourth play, on first-and-10 just short of midfield at the Fort Hill 47, quarterback Danny King drew the Rams offside to move across midfield. Then, Stubbs ran 12 yards for a first down before back-to-back runs of 7 and 8 yards by Snyder moved the Sentinels to the Randallstown 22.
The Rams jumped offside again but Fort Hill canceled out the penalty on the next play by committing a false start. It didn’t matter, however, as Stubbs darted 22 yards off-tackle for a score. Danny King’s point-after try was good, giving the Sentinels a 7-0 lead at the 7:39 mark.
After a 35-yard kickoff return by Syncere Brown put the Rams just shy of midfield, they got a first down three plays later. But Brown was stuffed on first down for a one-yard loss before an incomplete pass and a delay of game penalty set up a third-and-16 where a pass sailed out of bounds to set up fourth down. The Rams punted and downed the ball at the Fort Hill 11, but an illegal motion penalty set Randallstown back five more yards and forced it to rekick.
Then, the miscues really started in a big way for the Rams, as Austin Slider blocked the punt and fell on it at the Randallstown 43.
After a run for no gain on first down, Santmyire burst up the left side for a gain of 34 to set the Sentinels up with a first-and-goal from the 10. Runs of 3 and 4 yards by Snyder set the Sentinels up at the three-yard-line, but Randallstown burned its final timeout of the first half and was able to stuff Fort Hill on third down for a loss of five. After a false start penalty, King had no trouble booting a 31-yard field goal to give the Sentinels a 10-0 advantage with 53 seconds left in the first quarter.
Fort Hill forced a punt six plays later, with this one getting partially blocked and Santmyire smartly picking it up near the Randallstown sideline to give the Sentinel offense 13 fewer yards to gain for a score. Four plays — and yet another Randallstown offside penalty drew by King — later, Santmyire rushed it in from 12 yards out for a 17-0 lead after King’s PAT.
The Rams switched it up on offense on their next drive, moving the shifty Jaire Howell under center. He ran six yards on the third play from scrimmage for a conversion on third-and-5 before reaching the end zone three plays later on third-and-2 when he took the quarterback draw and scampered up the middle for a 61-yard touchdown. The two-point run failed, making it 17-6 with 4:13 to play before halftime.
Again, no problem for the Sentinels, who took over on their own 30 following a 20-yard kickoff return by Stubbs. Santmyire took a double handoff 12 yards on the first play before Stubbs broke free on his 58-yard score. King’s PAT made it 24-6 at 3:18.
The Fort Hill offense was back out on the field shortly thereafter when the defense forced a fumble on Randallstown’s first play from scrimmage, with Treston Davis recovering at the Rams’ 20. From there, it was all Snyder, who ran for gains of 3, 10 and 4 yards before powering it in from a yard out with one minute to play in the half. Daniel Stuby completed the two-point pass to Paxton Wertz, making the halftime score 32-6.
“If you remember back at the beginning of the year, those were the kids that we had returning,” Appel said of his offensive line. “We had four returners from the offensive line from last year and that was the only returners we had. We had no returners defensively. They do a good job of recognizing the fronts and making good line calls and blocking people where they should and how they should.
“We do a good job up top looking and finding holes and trying to give us good running lanes. Our coaches do a great job and I’ve got to give a shoutout to our varsity coaching staff. Jeff Brode, who’s been the second-longest tenured guy with me, and Rusty Swarner, and Shannon Trimble, and Danny May, and Toby Main, and Richie Shook, and Randy Stewart, Shane Steckman, Bob Walker, Jerry Meeks, Roy DeVore, Austin Lee, and Zack Alkire, who’s the head of our lower levels, but he’s up there during varsity games. They did a tremendous job tonight. … They’ve done a great job this year. It’s a new staff with some people missing, but they’ve done a good job coming together and I’m just thankful.”
Although Fort Hill didn’t receive the second-half kickoff, the Sentinel offense was out on the field after three Randallstown plays when Korey Stafford intercepted a pass and returned it 21 yards to give the Sentinels the ball at the Rams 27.
Two plays after a five-yard run by Santmyire on third-and-3 to kept the drive alive, King scrambled out right and evaded a pair of defenders before slinging a sidearm pass to Austin Burt, who was tackled at the two. Snyder punched it in on the next play, with King’s PAT making it 39-6 at 6:38 in the third period.
Penalties hurt the Rams again, who three plays later ended up with a third-and-36 from the seven-yard-line. On the down, Sheldon Welsh recovered a fumble and returned it three yards for a touchdown. King’s extra point put the score at 46-6 with 6:38 to go in the third.
Randallstown’s final points were put on the board on its ensuing drive when Charlie Mills plunged in from three yards out. Howell completed a 46-yard pass to Raymon Crump on the first play of the drive and later connected with Brown on a 30-yard strike to convert a third-and-22. Howell scored on the two-point run following the touchdown.
Stuby took over under center on the Sentinels’ next and final drive, running on the last three plays for gains of 3 and 37 yards before scoring on a two-yard run. Robert Bower booted the PAT to put the score at its final.
Fort Hill heads into territory it hasn’t been in a long time: On the road in a non-state title playoff game. The Sentinels, the No. 3 overall seed, head to Thurmont next week to face No. 2 Catoctin (11-1) in a battle of all-West foes. The Cougars defeated No. 7 Fairmont Heights, 41-21, Friday night.
It will be the first away non-state title playoff game for Fort Hill since 2010, when the Sentinels won the West Region crown at Mountain Ridge with a 25-0 victory before falling to Dunbar, 20-14, in the state semifinals.
“Just happy for the seniors who were playing here for the last time tonight,” said Appel. “They win a game and they win Fort Hill’s 700th game and they can say that they were part of that group that won the 700th game, it’s pretty awesome.” Fort Hill’s overall record is 700-180-17 with a .790 winning percentage.
“They have done a lot of maturing during the year,” Appel said, “and I think here at the end, when it counts the most, they’ve done a good job coming together as a team. I’m really proud of them.”