Randallstown fumbles and falls to Fort Hill Sentinels advance, 22-19, will play for state crown

Class 2A football

November 21, 1998|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

More than 2,500 fans made the three-hour trek from Cumberland to Baltimore yesterday and spent the next three hours braving a driving rainstorm in support of perennial power Fort Hill.

In the final tense moments of last night's Class 2A state semifinal against No. 3-ranked Randallstown, they may have even spelled the difference.

With the Rams driving for the potential winning score, a mishandled snap from center, caused at least partially by crowd noise, resulted in a decisive fumble and sent Fort Hill to a 22-19 victory before an overflow throng at Catonsville Community College.

"The snap came up late. We hesitated, and it went underneath my hands," said Randallstown quarterback Archie Trader. "I think it was because of the crowd. We couldn't hear."

Fort Hill (10-2), the defending Class 2A champion, advanced to next weekend's final at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium, where the Sentinels will face the winner of today's game between Urbana and Middletown.

Randallstown (11-1), which was seeking its first state title since 1990, played evenly with Fort Hill the entire way. The Rams used the passing of Trader, the receiving of James Jegede and Charles Smith, and the running of Marshell Contee to move the ball with ease at times.

"I thought it was an even game, plain and simple," said Randallstown second-year coach Bruce Strunk. "We played pretty mistake-free all game, and then, just one play. "

The Rams looked strong early, capping their first drive of the game, when Trader hit Jegede with a 33-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0 with 4: 30 left in the first quarter.

Later, trailing 14-13 after a blocked extra-point attempt, the Rams took the lead when Contee ran off tackle around the left side for a 7-yard score, making it 19-14. The 2-point run attempt failed.

On the next possession, however, Fort Hill drove 67 yards in 4: 22, taking the lead for good on T. J. Powell's 1-yard plunge and Nick Fennel's ensuing two-point pass to Kevin Shupe. That gave the Sentinels a 22-19 lead.

After getting the ball back at their 28 with 1: 56 left, the Rams drove to Fort Hill's 10 before the fumble, which was recovered by linebacker Josh Cristofori.

"Randallstown is for real, but we got the break," said Fort Hill coach Mike Calhoun. "That's why we're going to College Park. We were very fortunate to win tonight. That's how we've been winning all year. We've been winning on other people's mistakes. They gave us the opportunity, and we stole one."

Fort Hill 7 0 7 8 -- 22

Randallstown 7 0 6 6 -- 19

R -- Jegede 33 pass from Trader (Trader kick)

F -- Powell 4 run (Lapp kick)

F -- Hamilton 15 pass from Pennel (Lapp kick)

R -- Contee 7 run (kick blocked)

R -- Contee 2 run (run failed)

F -- Powell 1 run (Shupe pass from Pennel)

Pub Date: 11/21/98

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