By Josh Michael -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY - The Sherando Warriors were held scoreless through the first three quarters and the visiting Martinsburg Bulldogs used a potent running game for a 27-13 victory.
Sherando was hanging with the West Virginia AAA state champions through the first half of the game only trailing 7-0 at the half, but the Bulldogs used two third quarter touchdowns and an early fourth quarter score to take a 27-0 insurmountable lead.
The Martinsburg defense established their dominance right away by intercepting a Reid Entsminger pass on the very first drive of the game. Sherando could not get their passing game going in the first half as Martinsburg held Enstminger to just one completion for 15 yards in the entire half.
"Well they're a really good defense first of all, but we just didn't execute the way we needed to, when you're playing a team of that caliber you have to execute on a very high level," said Sherando head coach Bill Hall.
Trailing just 7-0 entering the second half, Sherando was very much in the ball game, but the Bulldogs used a 55 yard touchdown drive to start the third quarter to pad their lead. Martinsburg quarterback Malique Watkins finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, his second of the game to give his team a 13-0 lead as the extra point was blocked.
Watkins was the star of the show for the Bulldogs offense as he ran for a game high 119 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his ability to elude tacklers that was the key. Watkins continually eluded Warriors' defenders and turned negative plays into positive yards.
Trailing by 13 in the third quarter, and driving into Martinsburg territory, Entsminger made the one throw he couldn't afford to make. On fourth and 3, Enstminger threw to the far side of the field and Deamonte Lindsay was there to pick off the pass and run it all the way back for a crushing blow and a 20-0 lead for Martinsburg.
Martinsburg would add another touchdown in the fourth quarter to take a dominating 27-0 lead with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter.
Once the game seemed out of hand, the Sherando offense finally began to move the football and made the game respectable. Entsminger would connect for a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter and George Aston added a rushing touchdown to account for the Warriors' 13 points.
"We never got in a rhythm. They did a great job of collision getting us out of rhythm, especially with the number two wide receivers. We needed to do a better job for our quarterback, if we aren't in rhythm or on time and our timing's off it makes him [Entsminger] look like he doesn't know what's going on, but bottom line is we needed to execute better," Hall said.
Entsminger finished the game completing nine of his 21 pass attempts for 127 yards, one touchdowns and two interceptions. It was the third loss in three years for the Warriors against the Bulldogs.