ROARING SPRING - On a night when the Central offense put up up 354 yards of offense with a nice balance of pass and run, the Fort Hill, Md. Sentinels did them one better, actually 16 points better.
The Sentinels, who only passed five times in the game, rushed for 404 yards on 45 carries en route to a 37-21 victory, knocking the Scarlet Dragons' record down to 4-2. In a game in which Central was inside the Fort Hill 30 three times in the first half - and came away empty - coach Dave Baker gave more credit than complaint when it was all said and done.
"I'd like to think the other team was just real good," said Baker, who watched Fort Hill improve to 5-0. "I mean, I think we played better tonight than we have for most of the year. We played hard. We made some mistakes, but that stuff is going to happen. They were really good."
Fort Hill simply did not waste time when it had the ball. The Sentinels led, 22-15, at the break, and their three touchdown drives went four, four and two plays.
The main cog on offense was tailback Dekarai Darr, who rushed for 200 yards on 23 carries and four touchdowns. Sentinel coach Todd Appel was quick to comment on the entire offense instead of just his 5-foot-4 senior.
"I know the media and the newspapers like to say it's just this kid and that kid, but it's not just Dekarai, it's not just [quarterback] Hunter [Squire]," Appel said. "Until you sit down and watch the film, you'd see our offensive line blocked very well. [Fullback] Alex Barnes blocked his tail off."
Central tried to match the Sentinels in the first half, thanks to a 9-yard touchdown run by Bradi Moore in the first quarter, and a 35-yard touchdown pass from Austin Cunningham to Justin Helsel at the 6:06 mark of the second quarter. But with the score tied at 7-7 in the first quarter, the Dragons ended up with no points on a first-and-goal from the 5 that gave new life to the Sentinels.
"I think our defense played real well tonight against an offense that really keeps you on your toes," Appel said. "Moore and Cunningham are tremendous athletes. No. 2 [Cunningham] is really dangerous because he touches the ball on every play."
Central's offense could not produce in the third quarter, finishing with two punts and a fumble on its three series. Fort Hill had a 5-play, 45-yard drive that culminated with a 29-yard touchdown run by Darr on fourth down. It was the second touchdown by the Sentinels on a fourth-down play in the game.
Besides Darr's 200 yards rushing, teammate Ty Johnson rushed for 105 yards on nine carries and a score.
"Their line blocked real well," Baker said. "Their backs were big and strong and fast. I would run those guys a lot, wouldn't you?"
Down 37-15, Cunningham literally passed the Dragons down the field in the fourth quarter late in the game, moving the team 80 yards in nine plays - seven through the air - scoring on a 1-yard run by Moore with 4:53 to go on the clock. The two-point pass failed, and when the onsides kick was recovered by the Sentinels, Central found itself in a tough spot. Fort Hill got two more first downs to kill the clock and end the game.
"We had to match them offensively and we didn't" Baker said. "Last year when we lost to them, we felt we should have won. This year, I thought it would be harder."
Game notes: Central turned the ball over three times. Fort Hill lost it once ... Johnson picked off two passes for the Sentinels. ... Central is at Philipsburg-Osceola next Friday night.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Fort Hill14 8 7 8 - 37
Central7 8 0 6 - 21
FH-Darr 16 run (King kick), 10:19
C-Moore 9 run (Slagenweit kick), 7:36
FH-Darr 8 run (King kick), 4:07
FH-Johnson 69 run (Shreve run), 10:03
C-Helsel 35 pass from Cunningham (Moore pass from Cunningham), 6:06
FH-Darr 29 run (King kick), 4:47
FH-Darr 36 run (Darr run), 8:52
C-Moore 1 run (pass failed), 4:53
RUSHING: Fort HIll - Darr 23-200, Johnson 9-105, Barnes 4-64, Squire 9-35. Central-Cunningham 14-99, Moore 15-67, Emerick 3-9, Hoenstine 1-6, Conrath 1-2.
PASSING: Fort Hill-Squire 1-5-0-20. Central-Cunningham 13-18-1-150, Benton 1-7-1-21, Moore 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Fort Hill-Shrive 1-20. Central-Moore 6-61, Helsel 2-50, Forshey 1-28, Ponder 2-16, Emerick 2-8, Mock 1-8.
INTERCEPTIONS: Fort Hill-Johnson 2.