Surrattsville High School’s football team drove inside the Fort Hill 20-yard line on their first three possessions in Friday night’s Class 1A state semifinal game, but came away with zero points.
That was bad, and it soon got much worse.
The Sentinels scored touchdowns on five straight first-half possessions and routed the Hornets 42-0 in the cold mountain air at Greenway Avenue Stadium in Cumberlaned. Fort Hill advances to the Maryland 1A state championship game Dec. 7 at M&T Bank Stadium against either Cambridge-South Dorchester or Frederick Douglass (Baltimore). Those two schools play at 1 p.m. Saturday at Baltimore Poly High school.
The Hornets, however, can only reflect on a historic season.
“You did something great this year,” coach Robert Harris II told his team after they ended a 10-3 season that included the school’s first trip to the state semifinals.
Their chance to get to the finals died in a mistake-filled first half under the lights against a deep Fort Hill offense that gained 349 yards on the ground. The Sentinels have outscored three playoff opponents 137-13.
“We made a lot of mistakes early,” Harris said. “We were in the red zone twice and got no points. I think that’s what changed the ballgame. My hat’s off to Fort Hill. They’re a disciplined team and a strong team.”
The Hornets lost two fumbles, allowed an onside kick recovery, had a pass intercepted, and committed seven penalties in the first 24 minutes.
Three minutes in however, they were poised to take the lead after driving from their 38 to inside the Sentinels’ 10 thanks in part to Robert Harris III completions of 26 and 16 yards to Ryan Wilcox.
“They didn’t really match up well with our passing game, and we could get some things because they weren’t really sure if we were going to pass or run,” coach Harris said of the offense’s early success moving the ball.
However, on first and goal, running back Amaru Major and quarterback Harris didn’t connect cleanly on the exchange and Fort Hill recovered the fumble at the 4-yard line.
“A miscommunication,” said Major, who finished with 128 yards on 19 carries, while Harris III completed 4-of-13 passes for 104 yards and one interception.
On their next drive, Surrattsville made it to Fort Hill’s 19, but turned it over on downs after a fumble, sack, and incomplete pass. Fort Hill running back Ty Johnson opened the scoring five plays later when he went 59 yards up the middle for a touchdown.
Again the Hornets got to the 19 before losing the ball on downs. This time, Johnson went 81 yards on Fort Hill’s first play and it was 14-0.
Thanks to a fumbled kick return, DeKarai Karr’s 11-yard dash made it 21-0 early in the second quarter as the Sentinels scored touchdowns on three consecutive plays from scrimmage over a span of 2 minutes and 32 seconds.
“They started gashing us on the backside,” coach Harris said. “A lot of their cut-back lanes opened up because we were getting too far up the field on defense. We gave them opportunities and they took advantage and we knew they would.”
Major noted, “We were too anxious to get to the ball. Instead of waiting patiently, we were very quick to react.”
To make matters worse, Fort Hill then kicked off from the Surrattsville 45 thanks to a penalty. They recovered the onside kick and soon led 28-0, scoring three touchdowns without the Hornets running a play from scrimmage.
The Sentinels added another score before the halftime and the second half was played with running time.
After addressing his players on the field, many of whom will be back next year, Harris II talked about his team.
“It was just something special about this group and it showed in their performance this year.” he said.
“Great year, lot of young kids. Only losing eight seniors. A lot of things we can look forward to in the future.”
Surrattsville 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fort Hill 7 28 7 0 - 0
FH – Ty Johnson 59-yd run (Chris King kick)
FH – Ty Johnson 81-yd run (Chris King kick)
FH – DeKarai Darr 11-yd run (Chris King kick)
FH – Alex Barnes 7-yd run (Chris King kick)
FH – Hunter Squires 1-yd run (Chris King kick)
FH – Alex Barnes 5-yd run (Chris King kick)
Surrattsville – Amaru Major 19-128, Alonzo Anderson 3-43, Duquan West 2-3, Robert Harris III 3-(-2).
Fort Hill – Ty Johnson 5-140, DeKarai Darr16-120, Alex Barnes 6-52, Ryan Smith 4-28, Hunter Squires 2-10, Rashaan Shives 2-(-1).
Surrattsville – Robert Harris III 4-13-104-1
Fort Hill – Hunter Squires 1-2-4.
Surrattsville – Ryan Wilcox 3-90, Alonzo Anderson 1-7.
Fort Hill – Devin Shreve 1-4.