CUMBERLAND – Fort Hill showed little rust from its unexpected week off and got the ball to just about everybody but the towel boy Saturday as the Sentinels floored the Capitol Christian Warriors 50-14 on a long afternoon at Greenway Avenue Stadium.
The Sentinels ran for more than 300 yards, got the ball into almost a dozen different hands and scored on big plays early, but it was a 23-point run over a four-minute stretch of the first and second quarters that really placed some separation between the two squads.
Beginning with a Nathaniel Grave 9-yard keeper with 3:40 left in the first, Fort Hill scored three touchdowns and tacked on a safety to open a 44-8 lead with 11:54 left in the second quarter.
The Graves keeper made the score 21-8, but Troy Banks intercepted a pass two plays later and two plays after that Graves called his own number again and ran in from 20 yards away to make it 28-8.
Following the kickoff, Jordan Warner came up with an interception and returned it 30 yards for the next touchdowns less than 20 seconds after Graves scored for the second time.
Eight seconds following the interception return and on the first play of Capitol’s next drive, the defensive front for Fort Hill bottled up the Warriors quarterback in the end zone for a safety.
Markel Spencer finished of the four-minute flurry with a 17-yard run on the first play of the second quarter.
“We had a lull in the schedule after what happened last week when we had the rug taken out from underneath us and lost a game,” said Fort Hill coach Todd Appel. “It can be tough to get back up coming off something like that and then facing a team in Capitol Christian that is just getting by, but I thought we came to play.
“I can tell you that if we aren’t up for the next four games, we are either asleep or dead,” Appel added, referring to upcoming games against South Hagerstown, Sherando, Mountain Ridge and Allegany.
The Sentinels’ scoring got started through the air as Graves found Brayden Poling for 15 yards with 9:42 left in the first.
The uber-accurate Graves completed all three of his passes for 62 yards, and ran twice – both for touchdowns – for 29 yards.
Raen Smith, back from a leg injury suffered in the second game, had the second Fort Hill touchdown with a 36-yard run that saw him plow over the final defender on his way to the goal line. Of the 11 rushers for the Sentinels, Smith finished with the most yards with 62. Banks added 56 yards on seven carries, and Austin Martin added 50 on seven second-half carries.
The defense limited the Warriors to 94 yards on the ground and 93 through the air, came up with three interceptions and recovered a fumble.
“I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but we had our scout defense starting for us today. They do a great job for us every week and we wanted to reward them. We do have some regular starters in that group, but we thought the other kids deserved the chance to start,” Appel said about his team’s defensive play.
The Warriors were outmatched from kickoff to final whistle and their substitutes could be counted on one hand, but they did have kids who showed they could play.
Quarterback Reginald James showed he could throw and run, but the Sentinels’ defense never allowed him the time or space to do much of either. Running back Bryce Hawkins scored both of his team’s touchdowns – running from three yards out in the first quarter and catching a 20-yard pass from James in the fourth – and flashed his skills on a few kickoff returns.
Fort Hill improves to 4-1 and has won 32 of its last 33 games. The Sentinels will host South Hagerstown Friday night.