CUMBERLAND — The celebrating is done. The excuses have been made. The taunts have been levied. It’s all over and done with when Fort Hill and Allegany meet tonight in round two after duking it out in a memorable Homecoming game just six days ago. The difference this weekend is that there will be no round three and the loser is guaranteed to have its season end, while the winner advances to play for the Maryland 1A West Region title next weekend.
Across the Potomac River, Keyser and Frankfort also find themselves fighting for their season as both teams open play in the West Virginia AA Playoffs this week against some long-distance opponents. The Golden Tornado, which finished the season as the No. 2 rated team in the class, will host the Mingo Miners this evening, while Frankfort stays home to play Summers County on Saturday.
(3) Allegany (7-3) at (2) Fort Hill (8-2), 7 p.m.
Fort Hill enters Friday coming off a swarming defensive performance where it also controlled the line on both sides of the ball during a 21-20 win over Allegany on Saturday.
Micah May led the Sentinels defense with eight tackles and a sack, Zac Elbin had nine tackles and Cody Arigo had eight in holding the Allegany offense to one touchdown. May earned Defensive Player of the Game honors.
Hunter Squires earned Offensive Player of the Game honors after going to the air to hit Travis Bush and Elbin for two touchdowns, and running in a third. He found Bush for 10 yards in the first quarter and then went 34 yards to Elbin during the second before scoring the winning touchdown on a one-yard sneak in the fourth.
Elbin was honored as the Great American Rivalry Series Player of the Game by the U.S. Marines after his offensive and defensive performance.
“This was an extremely big win,” said Fort Hill coach Todd Appel after Saturday’s game. “People counted us out, at the beginning of the year, to do great things. But these kids believed in themselves, in hard work and in their coaches. And good things happen when you do that.
“We have talented kids and they’ve found many different ways to win this year — kickoff returns, big pass plays, long runs and even grinding it out at times. And now this, today. This was a great team effort. I’m extremely proud of them.”
The Campers only offensive touchdown came on a six-yard run by Christian Thomas, even though Allegany outgained the Sentinels in total offense 314-276 behind Thomas and his game-high 127 rushing yards.
Allegany also scored on a well-executed fake punt in the second quarter when Madison Wolford ran 46 yards and on a 58-yard interception return from Jordan Shook.
“We have to make some adjustments and go back at it,’’ Allegany coach Tom Preaskorn said, looking ahead to the rematch. “I think we can play better up front. I thought, offensively, they were handling us up front. We’ve got to do better.”
The most telling stat of all may have been the third-down conversions. Fort Hill converted on 9 of 11 while Allegany was just 5 for 13.
It is the 10th time the schools will meet twice in the same season and the sixth time in the playoffs. Only twice has the team that lost the first game come back to win the rematch — 1946 (Fort Hill 13-6, Allegany 7-6) and 2009 (Fort Hill 17-7, Allegany 35-14).
(15) Mingo Central (5-5)
at (2) Keyser (9-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Golden Tornado beat Mountain Ridge 49-0 last week and just missed out on earning the top seed in Class AA, finishing four-tenths of a point behind undefeated Wayne.
Keyser racked up 486 yards of offense against the Miners and will be looking to transfer that success when they take on the Miners of Mingo Central.
Blake Ravenscroft scored the first two Keyser touchdowns with runs of 28 and 34 yards. Danny Fife scored on a three-yard run and Garrett Crites on a 15-yard run before J.R. Flint caught a 35-yard pass from Cody Eversole to give Keyser a 34-0 lead at halftime.
Flint added a 14-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Hunter Kasmier had a 22-yard run in the fourth.
The Tornado defense limited the Miners to two first downs and 69 yards on 31 carries.
If was the fourth shutout of the season for Keyser, which allowed a total of 68 points all year.
Mingo Central is coming off its biggest win of the season 44-0 over Herbert Hoover. The Miners jumped up from No. 20 in Class AA to squeeze into the top 16 with the victory to earn their first playoff appearance in the two year existence of the school. They have finished 5-5 in the regular season both years, and are a consolidation of Williamson, Matewan, Burch and Gilbert high schools.
Chris is a sportswriter for the Times-News. Contact him at email@example.com.