CUMBERLAND — Sometimes it’s good to have a short memory.
And sometimes, it’s not.
The Fort Hill Sentinels exorcised some bad memories from a year ago on Friday the 13th, roughing up Keyser 24-7 in front of a near capacity crowd at Greenway Avenue Stadium.
Hunter Squires scored two touchdowns, Ty Johnson scored the other, and Cody Dolly came up with two big defensive plays in a pivotal third quarter as the Sentinels got a little revenge for a 29-point drubbing at Keyser a year ago.
“I wrote ‘51-22’ on the board in the locker room,’’ Fort Hill coach Todd Appel said of a simple reminder to his players, as if they needed one, of what happened a year ago in a series that Fort Hill now leads 38-7-1.
The Sentinels (2-0) grabbed an early lead, never trailed, and scored 17 unanswered points in winning a foul-filled evening. There were 26 accepted penalties — 13 on each team — and 216 penalty yards marched off on a perfect night for football.
Appel showed confidence in his offense, and defense, too, by gambling on fourth-and-one at his own 15-yard line midway through the first quarter. While most may have believed the Sentinels would attempt to draw Keyser offsides, Squires took the snap and ran five yards on a sneak for a first down.
“They were moving the ball on us and I didn’t want them to get the ball right back,” Appel said. “We have confidence in Hunter (Squires), and he made the audible and the right call.”
Later, Alex Barnes ran for 14 tough yards to the Keyser 47, and Squires hit Johnson for a 25-yard pass to get to the 28. Squires ran 19 yards out of the shotgun to get to the eight, and after a seven-yard run by Johnson, Squires scored on a one-yard sneak to cap a 94-yard, 14-play drive that ate up 6:07. It was set up by a Fort Hill defensive stand and interception by Rashaan Shives on fourth-and-goal from the Sentinels’ 13.
Keyser (1-2) countered quickly. Blake Ravenscroft returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards to the Fort Hill 41. Danny Fife had runs of five and 27 yards to get to the 10 and Garrett Crites scored from there, following the block of Drew Roy into the end zone
Although Keyser had moved the ball the first quarter was nightmarish for the Golden Tornado, which had five penalties and an interception in its first series.
A fumble, recovered by Fort Hill’s Trenton Swan, in the second quarter led to another Fort Hill touchdown, a six-yard run by Squires with 2:01 left in the half.
“We had plenty of momentum and moved the ball but you can’t shoot yourself in the foot like we did, especially against a good team like Fort Hill,’’ said Keyser coach Sean Biser. “The fumble was an incomplete shuffle pass out of our jet sweep, but the officials didn’t want to listen when we argued that.
“We had some illegal formation penalties that we didn’t agree with. I thought we were controlling the line and ball in the first half, but a couple of mistakes killed us.”
The Tornado, down 14-7 at halftime, began the second half as it did the first, marching deep into Fort Hill territory. A drive that included 11- and 18-yard runs by Fife got the Tornado to the Fort Hill 12, where Dolly and the defense made another red zone stand.
Dolly stopped Fife for no gain at the eight, then took down Ravenscroft for a five-yard loss at the 13 on third-and-six. Johnson batted down a pass on fourth down and the Sentinels took over the ball, and game, from that point.
After an exchange of punts, Barnes escaped trouble at the line of scrimmage, got a big downfield block from Johnson and dashed 49 yards to the Keyser six. Johnson scored on the next play, getting a nice block on the corner from Barnes, to make it 21-7 with 46 seconds left in the third period.
A seven-minute possession in the fourth quarter ended in a 35-yard field goal by Chris King that made it 24-7 with 2:18 to go.
“This a big win for us because that’s a good Keyser team, and a team that beat us last year,’’ Appel said. “They’ve got experience and a lot of talent and are going to be tough down the stretch. Our guys up front like Preston Bryant, Brennan Carlin, Michael Wright, Cody Arigo, Josh Roberts, Rashaan Shives ... they’re big kids and played with aggressiveness. When we want to be, we can be physical, too, and I think we wore on them. We had a few big plays but for the most part were grinding them out and just kept plugging away at them.”
Fort Hill led in second-half yardage 137-54, and outgained the Tornado for the game 275-177.
“I thought our defense played excellent,’’ said Biser. “I can’t say anything about the effort, on offense or defense. It was just that at times we were our own worst enemy. You have to be able to overcome calls you don’t agree with and can’t have the mental errors we did. The penalties moved short yardage plays to long yardage, and forced us do to some things we didn’t want to do.”
Fife led all rushers with 15 carries and 89 yards for Keyser. Barnes had nine carries and 87 yards and Dekarai Darr 15 rushes and 69 yards for Fort Hill.
Keyser plays at Northern on Friday. Fort Hill will host Central Tech (Pa.) next Saturday at 5:30.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org