NEW PARIS - Chestnut Ridge had Fort Hill in a very unfamiliar and uneasy situation late in their matchup with the squad from Maryland.
The Lions held a three-point lead for nearly the entire second half, something the undefeated Sentinels were not accustomed to dealing with through their first seven games.
Unfortunately, for the Lions, they were unable to close out the upset bid, falling 21-17 on senior night at Dr. Giovacchini Stadium.
"This was the best that we played, and I say that despite the fact that we lost," Chestnut Ridge coach Max Shoemaker said. "The consistency for four quarters. We played the way the game's meant to be played. It's just a great high school football game, and unfortunately, somebody had to lose and tonight it was us. Hopefully, before the year is out, we're going to win one like that."
Fort Hill running back Dekarai Darr, who led all rushers with 115 yards despite remaining on the sidelines the first quarter due to a team issue, plowed his way in for the eventual game-winner on third-and-goal from 2 yards out with 3:59 left in the contest.
"We made mistakes, we fumbled early, we had a lot of penalties. But our kids found a way there at the end," Fort Hill coach Todd Appel said. "We had to find a way as a coaching staff, to make some adjustments. Basically, what it came down to is we played more like Chestnut Ridge at the end - hard-nosed and tough. And we had to find a way to do that."
That still left plenty of time for Chestnut Ridge (6-3) to put together a drive of its own.
Quarterback Beau Bosch led his Lions down the field, tossing a 26-yard completion to Trent Crouse on a fourth-and-10 from their own 45 to keep the drive alive. Bosch orchestrated his club down to the Fort Hill 20 after completing a 5-yard pass to J.D. Weyant.
On third-and-goal, Bosch was stopped for no gain before being knocked back for a 1-yard loss out of the shotgun on fourth down.
"I wanted a run on third and Beau misheard me, I guess," Shoemaker said. "I was calling numbers from the sideline and he ran a pass. I wanted to run on third and pass on fourth if we didn't get the first they're kids and they get excited."
The Sentinels (8-0) got one first down and kneeled on the ball the next three downs to end the hard fought battle.
"I think good football teams need to find a way to win no matter what situation they're in," Appel said. "That's what we did tonight here against a tough Chestnut Ridge team. This is Pennsylvania football in a small town at its finest."
Following a Ridge punt on the game's opening drive, Fort Hill put together a 16-play drive that ended when Alex Barnes fumbled the ball away at the CR 1 on a first-and-goal from the 7.
Bosch picked up the loose ball and returned it 77 yards to the Fort Hill 22. After an eight-play drive, Sean Van Meter put the Lions on the board first with a 24-yard field goal at the 11:11 mark of the second quarter.
"That was a big play. That gave our kids a little bit of a boost," Shoemaker said. "We ended up kicking the field goal and getting on the board."
The entire second quarter was a see-saw battle as the two teams exchanged the lead four times.
The Sentinels responded to the field goal by moving 71 yards in five plays capped off by a Ty Johnson 45-yard sprint to pay dirt.
The Lions answered back as Bosch carried the ball on the first six plays of the drive for 44 yards before connecting with Weyant on a 21-yard scoring strike at the 5:24 mark. Van Meter's extra point was short and Ridge led 9-7 at that point.
Johnson crossed the goal line again, this time off a 53-yard pass from QB Hunter Squires with 3:25 left.
The Lions' ensuing drive was all Bosch again as he found Weyant (13 yards) and Braden Hengst (22), while also running four times for 22 yards. On a first-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Bosch ran the keeper up the middle - finding it blocked up - before spinning to his right and diving as he was being tackled and reached across the goal line to put Chestnut Ridge back on top.
On the two-point conversion, Trent Lohr took the toss from Bosch, sprinted right, then stopped and threw to a wide-open Bryan Feather in the end zone to put Ridge on top 17-14 with 51.5 to go before the break.
Chestnut Ridge closes out the regular season by traveling to Bedford next Friday.
"In the third quarter, we made a couple of defensive stops," Shoemaker said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't move the ball enough in the second half, and we just came up a little bit short."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Fort Hill0 14 0 7 - 21
Chestnut Ridge0 17 0 0 - 17
CR-Van Meter 24 FG, 11:11.
FH-Johnson 45 run (King kick), 8:33.
CR-Weyant 21 pass from Bosch (kick failed), 5:24.
FH-Johnson 53 pass from Squires (King kick), 3:25.
CR-Bosch 4 run (Feather pass from Lohr), 51.5.
FH-Darr 2 run (King kick), 3:59.
RUSHING: Fort Hill-Barnes 12-71, Johnson 9-93, Darr 21-115, Squires 4-29, Twigg 1-1, Carlin 1-(-3), TEAM 3-(-3). Chestnut Ridge-Bosch 22-93, M. Wiley 4-8, Crouse 1-3, T. Wiley 1-2, TEAM 1-(-1).
PASSING: Fort Hill-Squires 7-13-0-111, TEAM 0-1-0-0. Chestnut Ridge-Bosch 8-19-1-105.
RECEIVING: Fort Hill-Shives 3-41, Shreve 1-9, Johnson 3-61. Chestnut Ridge-Hengst 4-40,, Weyant 3-39, Crouse 1-26.
INTERCEPTIONS: Fort Hill-Barnes. Chestnut Ridge-none.