Warriors top Martinsburg

STEPHENS CITY– Martinsburg had a bit of deja vu Friday night against Sherando.

For the second straight game, the Bulldogs played close with a tough opponent, at points having the lead, only to come up short in the end. The first time came to H.D. Woodson in the season-opening game, a two-point loss, and the second came to the Warriors.

Despite a fast start, which included a 14-point lead in the first half, Martinsburg couldn’t hold on and fell to 0-2 with a 21-14 loss to Sherando.

“I think it’s important for us to keep our heads up. We played two really good football teams and we came up short, but we could have won either one of them. It’s easy to get your head down. When you face a little adversity, you gotta step up to the challenge and keep pushing through,” Martinsburg coach David Walker said.

The Bulldogs couldn’t have asked for a better start as they scored on their first possession, finding the end zone in just two plays, including a 45-yard touchdown pass from Tyson Bagent to Juwan Green down the right sideline. On Martinsburg’s next possession, which came after an interception by Deandre Daniels, his first of two on the night, it put together a seven-plus-minute drive that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown from Isaac Brown to put the Bulldogs up 14-0.

Bagent finished with 220 yards passing and the one touchdown, a good portion of that coming in the first half.

“It gave us a little bit of a cushion to hold on, but we just couldn’t quite hold on to it. I think once the game settled in, I think they probably started playing better defensively,” Walker said. “We had some opportunities. We had a couple of letdowns protection-wise, here and there, but I think as the game went on, our youth got to us a little bit and physically. I think we wore down a little bit.”

That was Martinsburg’s only scoring of the night, and from there, Sherando slowly chipped away at the lead, beginning with a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Patrick Minteer connected with Joey Weaver, who maneuvered his way through the Martinsburg defense, on a 72-yard touchdown, pulling the Warriors within a touchdown.

The scoring remained the same through the remainder of the first half, thanks in part of two turnovers by the Bulldogs and three turnovers and a handful of false-start penalties from the Warriors.

Things didn’t changed until 7 minutes, 27 seconds were left in the fourth quarter. Sherando pulled within one point at 14-13 after Aaron Banks took a short pass in the middle of the field from Minteer and turned it into a 21-yard touchdown play, which was followed by a mixed extra point.

Martinsburg’s next drive stalled after two holding penalties, and the Warriors responded with the go-ahead touchdown on their next possesion. The seven-play drive was capped by a 6-yard scamper by Cordell Peterson.

“The defense put us in a position, but we couldn’t get anything clicking, so we just changed pace on offense. That was the spark we needed,” Sherando coach Bill Hall said. “As a coordinator, you’re searching for something to jump start the offense.

“We shot ourselves in the foot so many times tonight, which isn’t the sign of good football, but we were able to overcome that. What we did do is show heart. Our heart was really big, and the guys kept persevering. When we went hurry there at the end, I think that was the difference.”

The Bulldogs fought back, pushing the ball all the way to the Sherando 9-yard line. With first-and-goal, Martinsburg had an incomplete pass, a delay-of-game penalty and another incomplete pass to set up and fourth-and-goal at the Sherando 14. Martinsburg completed a pass on fourth down, from Bagent to Brown, but Brown was tackled two yards short of the end zone to end the game.

“When they spread you out like that, you’re vulnerable in a lot of ways. I thought we did a good job of mixing it up, and we had people making plays, which was obviously the key,” Hall said.