Bulldogs survive Warriors’ challenge
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – Sherando coach Bill Hall and quarterback Hunter Entsminger hatched a plan at halftime they told nobody about.
Not even when they called the play did the pair tell anybody.
Entsminger took the snap, faked left and ran a bootleg to the right, finding clear territory ahead of him.
He raced 58 yards for a touchdown, a run that represented more yardage than the Warriors had all during the first half and, more importantly, for Sherando, it became “game on” against Martinsburg, West Virginia, at Cobourn Field.
A two-touchdown lead for the Bulldogs had suddenly shrunk to one, and it kept going that way throughout the rest of the second half.
Every time the Bulldogs went up by two touchdowns, the Warriors had a reply.
Even when Martinsburg appeared to have clinched the victory on quarterback Travis Bagent’s 2-yard scoring run with 39 seconds left, Sherando surged back on Jacquari Hayes’ 80-yard kickoff return.
The victory wasn’t secured for Martinsburg until Chelo Teneval recovered an onside kick, and Bagent took a knee to end the game.
The Bulldogs moved to 2-0, while Sherando dropped to 0-2.
The play by Entsminger boosted Sherando.
“We’re very young,” Hall said. “They got some confidence they could play and excel after halftime. It was positive the way we competed.
“A lot of teams would’ve backed down from a challenge from a team like Martinsburg. I was just proud of the way we competed.”
The Warriors grabbed the first lead when the football popped free from the hands of Dewayne Grantham and right into those of Dylan Rivers. He took off and finished with a 76-yard fumble return for a touchdown to give Sherando a 7-0 lead with 4:15 left in the first quarter.
It was one of three fumbles Martinsburg lost.
“Dylan Rivers might be the best linebacker we’ll play all year,” Martinsburg coach David Walker said. “He stripped two or three of those fumbles.”
Martinsburg came right back and scored on Chenoval’s 7-yard touchdown catch from Bagent, the score set up as Will Jones returned the kickoff 62 yards to the Sherando 24-yard line.
The Bulldogs went ahead on the final play of the first quarter when Ricky Barrett blocked a punt for the second week in a row. Grantham picked up the ball at the 8 and rambled into the end zone for a touchdown.
Martinsburg made it 21-7 on Mikey Jackson’s 3-yard scoring run, one play after he caught a 17-yard pass on fourth down midway through the second quarter.
“I saw a lot of good things, and I saw a lot of things we need to clean up physically and mentally,” Walker said. “It’s a process where the kids need to know that we’re not as good as anybody tells them they are.
“We need to play with a sense of urgency.”
Instead, at times, the Bulldogs were victims of shock plays.
Like in the first-quarter fumble return by Rivers, and then when Entsminger dashed for his touchdown.
“We got that set up because they bring a lot of pressure on the backside,” Hall said. “We wouldn’t have called that without seeing what they did in the first half.”
Martinsburg came through with an equally pretty play for its fourth touchdown, advancing the score to 28-14 as Bagent and Isaac Brown hooked up on a 10-yard touchdown pass.
“That was highlight stuff right there,” Walker said.
From the slot, Brown ran straight into the end zone and turned to the corner just as another receiver was cutting underneath on a slant route.
“I trusted him one on one,” said Bagent, who completed 19 of 35 passes for 182 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Entsminger led Sherando right back to within 28-21 on the next series when he hooked up with Hayes on a 10-yard touchdown pass two plays after his back-to-back 23- and 24-yard completions put Sherando at the Martinsburg 14.
Entsminger, who completed 12 of 23 passes for 118 yards, couldn’t come up with a first down on Sherando’s next possession, however, and Martinsburg took over with 3:05 to play.
Grantham’s 28-yard run moved Martinsburg to the Sherando 3. Bagent scored on third down to account for three of Martinsburgás five touchdowns.
“I can’t believe they returned that kick,” Bagent said. “We’re definitely going to work to sharpen our ball security. Four turnovers is unacceptable.”
Sherando hosts Washington, West Virginia, next week.
Contact Rick Kozlowski, of the Martinsburg Journal, at firstname.lastname@example.org
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