WESTMINSTER — Fort Hill got a big lift from sophomore fullback Raen Smith, who scored three second-half touchdowns and, unofficially, rushed for 109 yards in the half to bring the Sentinels back from a third-quarter deficit for a 44-22 win over Silver Oak Academy Friday at Deer Park Field in Westminster.
Smith, who plays a variety of positions for the Sentinels, was inserted at fullback to start the second half after Alex Barnes left the game due to an injury and scored three straight touchdowns to help bring Fort Hill (3-0) back from a 14-9 deficit and secure the Sentinels’ 17th straight win over two seasons.
“Raen Smith is a football player,” said Fort Hill head coach Todd Appel. “He plays guard for us, he plays fullback for us, he can play nose guard for us and he can play linebacker for us. Tonight he was needed at fullback when Alex Barnes went down and he carried the load for us. He should be excited, and I’m happy for him. He’s a good football player.”
Fort Hill also had to withstand an outstanding performance by Silver Oak tailback Charles Wells, who rushed for 283 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries.
“Silver Oak is a much improved football team,” said Appel, “and that running back is special. He runs hard, he can do anything with the ball in his hands. He can play on the next level. He’s the best running back we’ve faced this year, by far.
“They battled us hard tonight, and we’re very happy to have won the game.”
Silver Oak opened the game with a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive on the Sentinels. The big plays came on fourth-and-seven from the Rams 33 when punter Tyquan King fumbled the snap, then took off and rushed for 18 yards and the first down to the Fort Hill 49.
Three plays later, on third-and-11, Wells took the pitch and broke several tackles on his way to a 50-yard run for touchdown at 8:10. The kick for extra point missed and the Rams led, 6-0.
Silver Oak then stopped Fort Hill on downs at the Rams 30, but lined up for a punt three plays later. Once again, King received a bad snap, but this time could do nothing about it as it sailed over his head and in and out of the end zone for the safety at 3:48 of the first.
Barnes took the Silver Oak free kick from the Fort Hill 30 to the Silver Oak 48, then carried for eight on first down to the 40. Two plays later, Barnes picked up the first down before quarterback Rashaan Shives hooked up with tight end Ryan Shives for 18 yards to put the ball on the Rams 17.
Brayden Poling then picked up nine yards, and a penalty and a play later Ty Johnson (75 yards on nine carries) took it over the left side for the three-yard touchdown run at 1:20 of the first, with Austin Farrell’s kick making it 9-6.
No scoring occurred in the second quarter, although Silver Oak threatened late, getting as deep as the Fort Hill 15 before D.J. Powell intercepted a pass.
Johnson nearly broke a long run on the final play of the half but the teams went to the break with Fort Hill holding on to a 9-6 lead.
Special teams play continued to vex the Sentinels as they muffed the second-half kickoff, with Silver Oak recovering at the Fort Hill 30. On the first play, Wells, who gained 129 yards on 14 carries in the first half, promptly added 30 more as he burst through the middle of the Fort Hill defense to score the go-ahead touchdown for the Rams. Wells then ran in the two-point conversion to give Silver Oak a 14-9 lead.
Fort Hill then took over at its 37 and put together a seven-play, 63-yard scoring drive, asserting the force of the hard-running Smith, who broke loose from the Rams’ 34 on the sixth play of the drive to pick up 27 yards and put the ball on the seven. After a penalty on Silver Oak put it at the three, Smith went over right tackle for the touchdown with 9:56 left in the third. The run for two failed, but Fort Hill had regained the lead.
The Fort Hill defense then forced a three-and-out and the offense took over at its 42. After a Johnson gain of 13, Smith took it 15 yards to the Silver Oak 30. After another Johnson gainer and a penalty put it at the 15, Smith ran up the gut for the touchdown at 4:48 of the third, with Johnson’s run for two making it 23-14, Fort Hill.
Silver Oak, behind Wells, pieced together a 19-play, 65-yard drive that took the ball from the Rams 20 to the Fort Hill 19. On fourth-and-12, the quarterback rolled to his right but was stopped well short of the first down.
Fort Hill took over but was forced to punt, but on the next Silver Oak possession, Ryan Shives intercepted a pass and returned it to the Silver Oak 30 where Smith gained 20 on first down, then 10 more for the touchdown with 2:44 left in the game, with Farrell’s kick making it 30-14.
Fort Hill recovered a Silver Oak fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the Rams’ 11, and freshman Brayden Poling needed just one play to get into the end zone, with Farrell’s kick making it 37-14. Silver Oak repeated the favor on the very next kickoff, with Fort Hill recovering at the 15. Two plays later Poling scored from the nine, with Farrell’s kick making it 44-14.
Wells would then finish his big night by breaking loose for the longest run of the game, an 89-yarder for a touchdown with 1:14 left in the game to put the final at 44-22.
Fort Hill will host North Hagerstown on Saturday.