CUMBERLAND, Md. - In spite of the unusual mid-afternoon Saturday start, Chestnut Ridge started fast, scoring twice in the first three and a half minutes.
Fort Hill finished faster.
After spotting the Lions a 14-point lead, Fort Hill took advantage of its speed and quickness to storm back and snap Ridge's three-game winning streak, 32-28, in high school football at Greenway Avenue Stadium.
The Lions dipped to 4-4 overall. The performance left Ridge coach Max Shoemaker looking for answers.
"I'm kind of dumbfounded. I don't know what to say," Shoemaker said. "We play on peaks and we play in valleys. We have to be more consistent in playing at that peak level."
The deepest valleys on Saturday were a 22-point Fort Hill second quarter that concluded with a 41-yard Ty Mance touchdown run in the final minute of the first half to give the Sentinels a 25-21 lead and the hosts' 11-play, 61-yard second-half scoring march after Ridge had regained the advantage on Jacob Mock's 3-yard plunge midway through the third quarter.
Exploiting runs and passes to the edges or perimeter with its wing T to great success, the Sentinels gashed Ridge for 334 yards. Dekari Darr accounted for 142 yard on 26 carries and scored on a pair of short runs, the last, from the 1, putting Fort Hill ahead to stay with 10:01 left in the game.
The Lions had two more chances to go back in front. They punted after three plays and a penalty on their first possession of the fourth quarter. Then, after another penalty put them in long yardage, Fort Hill's Preston Bryant broke through to force a sack of Ridge quarterback Beau Bosch on third down, after which Sentinel defensive tackle Cody Arigo pressured Bosch into a fourth-down incompletion.
One week after amassing almost 600 yards on the ground against Kutztown, Ridge was held to 168 yards total. Although he's only about 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds, Arigo was a thorn in the side of Ridge's much larger offensive linemen.
"We saw [Bosch] was a good runner, that they liked to run the option and get to the edge. We just thought we could use our speed to stop them," said Arigo, whose family moved from Littlestown, Pa. last year. "I'm so much shorter, I can pick a gap and just shoot it, because I'm faster than a lot of offensive linemen. [The coaches] just told me to try to use my aggression and use my speed to make plays."
Bosch led the Lion offense with 73 yards on 20 carries - scoring twice - while Mock had 68 yards on 16 rushes.
Ridge's most effective move much of the afternoon was to give Fort Hill the ball.
Ridge only needed to go 50 yards to grab a two-touchown lead by recovering fumbles on two of Fort Hill's first three plays from scrimmage. Matt Wiley opened the scoring on a 5-yard run 1:59 into the game after Mock put the Lions in business at the Sentinels 18. Bosch ran in his first TD from the 10 less than a minute and a half later to make it 14-0 at the 8:32 mark of the first quarter.
Mock's go-ahead score was set up when Trent Crouse pounced upon a muffed Fort Hill punt return at the Sentinel 47.
"I thought for a long time the kids were trying to give it away," Fort Hill coach Todd Appel said. "I told them, though, that they're growing, because they played poorly, and they still found a way to win a football game."
Fort Hill, a winner over Central in Cumberland earlier this month, improved to 6-2. Ridge, which already has qualified to play for the District 5 Class AA championship, hosts another Cumberland team on Friday, Allegany, before its rivalry game with Bedford to end the regular season.
"There's no doubt we're a better team than we were in the beginning of the year," Shoemaker said. "We need to learn how to win in clutch situations and tight ballgames."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Chestnut Ridge14 7 7 0 - 28
Fort Hill 3 22 0 7 - 32
CR-M. Wiley 5 run (kick failed), 10:01.
CR-Bosch 10 run (Weyant pass from White), 8:32.
FH-King 21 FG, 4:09.
FH-Elbin 16 pass from Squires (King kick), 10:24.
CR-Bosch 3 run (T. Wiley kick), 7:02.
FH-Darr 2 run (May pass from Bush), 4:03.
FH-Mance 41 run (King kick), 0:52.5.
CR-Mock 3 run (T. Wiley kick), 6:10.
FH-Darr 1 run (King kick), 10:01.
RUSHING: Chestnut Ridge-Bosch 20-73, Mock 16-68, M. Wiley 2-9, Osman 1-10. Fort Hill-Darr 26-142, Elbin 9-33, Mance 5-68, Barnes 2-1, Squires 4-12, TEAM 2-(-2).
PASSING: Chestnut Ridge-Bosch 1-6-0-8. Fort Hill-Squires 5-7-0-80.
RECEIVING: Chestnut Ridge-Colledge 1-8. Fort Hill-Elbin 4-49, Bush 1-31.
INTERCEPTIONS: Chestnut Ridge-none. Fort Hill-none.