Fort Hill wins sloppy, storm-delayed game over Coolidge, 23-0

Sep. 9—CUMBERLAND — It wasn't Fort Hill's best game, but it was enough to get a 23-0 win over Calvin Coolidge on Friday at Greenway Avenue Stadium.

"It was a very ugly game," Fort Hill head coach Zack Alkire said. "There's a lot we need to correct. But the positive is, defense played great. Kept us in the game."

It was the first meeting between the teams since 1979. The Sentinels have outscored the Colts 138-0 in the four matchups.

"Our guys showed fight at times," Coolidge head coach Kevin Nesbitt said. "We had some things that didn't go our way, but we kept fighting. We gotta get it in front of the sticks. We kept getting into first and long, second and long. Penalties just killed us today."

It was a mistake filled game by both sides. The teams combined for 27 penalties for 200 yards and nine fumbles with four recovered by the opponent.

One of the reasons for the sloppiness was a lightning delay that began less than two minutes into the game. It was paused with 10:12 left in the first quarter and delayed about 45 minutes.

"They had a different set than what we were looking at," Alkire said. "We had to change our defense on the fly. That was the good thing about the lightning delay, we were able to sit back and look at three plays and see what they were gonna do and adjust. That was a blessing in disguise there."

When play resumed, the Sentinels (2-0) drove inside the 40. Fort Hill went for it on fourth down and was stopped.

On the ensuing drive, the Colts (0-3) fumbled on their own 28 and the ball bounced backwards toward the end zone. Chevy Perkins recovered and returned it to the one-yard line.

The next play, Jabril Daniels scored from a yard out to give the Sentinels the lead. After a penalty on the Colts, Fort Hill went for two. A fumbled snap was recovered by Coolidge to keep it 6-0.

One of the most consequential penalties on either side came on the ensuing kickoff. Jaiceon Robertson returned the kick 100 yards for a touchdown, however, a holding penalty brought it back.

"It was just a different game from there," Nesbitt said.

Fumbles were a problem for the Sentinels in the first half. It fumbled four times and lost two.

While Fort Hill struggled to hold onto the ball in the rain, it also got some lucky breaks. On fourth and long, Cooper Silber lined up to punt. After bobbling the snap, he ran and picked up a first down and 23 yards.

Steven Spencer took a toss 32 yards on the final play of the first quarter to set up first and goal. After back-to-back fumbled snaps, Carson Bender scored from 11 yards out to extend the Sentinel lead to 13-0.

"Steven came in off the bench and made some big plays for us," Alkire said. "We have a stable of backs, when one wasn't able to step up the others were."

The Colts offense struggled in the first half, but Jhalil Anderson provided key chunk plays. He caught two passes in the half for 66 yards including a 46-yard catch from Ronnell Wheeler to the Fort Hill 26.

Carter Hess and Perkins combined for a sack on third down, and the Fort Hill defense forced an incompletion on fourth down.

On the ensuing drive, it only took three plays for the Sentinels to find the end zone. Spencer broke several tackles from 27 yards away and scored to make it 20-0.

Fumbles continued to hurt Fort Hill in the second quarter as it lost the ball three plays into a drive.

"Our motto for this year is be stronger than your excuse," Alkire said. "There's no excuse for tonight."

Coolidge faced another fourth down and once again, the Sentinels made the play as Nick Willison got a sack.

While Fort Hill's front seven stepped up when needed, so did the Colts. Coolidge held the Sentinels to 1 for 7 on third down and 1 for 4 on fourth down.

"That's gonna be important for our league," Nesbitt said. "If we can play good defense, we can win a lot of games."

However, the Colts offense failed to capitalize off their defense. Coolidge went 2 for 17 on third down and 0 for 3 on fourth down.

Down 20-0 at halftime, the Colts opened the second half with an onside kick that Gavin Carney recovered.

After picking up a pair of first downs, the Sentinels committed two penalties that eventually led to a fourth-and-15. Coolidge met Fort Hill behind the line for a three-yard loss.

Coolidge's ensuing drive only lasted two plays. Hess tackled the running back for a three-yard loss on first down. The next play, Spencer intercepted a pass and returned it 24 yards.

With first and goal at the nine, a false start and two short runs stalled the drive for Fort Hill. Jacob Bone kicked a 27-yard field goal for the game's final points.

"You're not gonna be pretty every week," Alkire said. "Last week we were phenomenal, this week we weren't. There's ups and downs in life just like in football, the hope is there's more ups than downs."

The rest of the game was filled with a lot of penalties and several mistakes by both teams. The Sentinels fumbled twice and lost both. The Colts had some positive plays on offense, but failed to enter the red zone the rest of the game.

"We definitely didn't bring our A game," Alkire said. "We weren't focused and that's what happens."

Bender led all rushers with 129 yards on 14 attempts and the touchdown. Spencer added five runs for 62 yards and a score with an interception on defense.

"They both ran the ball hard," Alkire said. "They both saw the field very well."

Daniels ran 12 times for 66 yards and a touchdown. Fort Hill gained 313 yards all on the ground.

Defensively, Hess recorded a sack and three tackles for loss. Noah House, Landon Sensabaugh, Bender and Willison each recorded a sack.

Spencer and Wyatt Ranker had interceptions.

The Sentinels committed 13 penalties for 105 yards and fumbled six times, losing three.

Anderson led the Colts with two catches for 66 yards. Coolidge was held to 76 yards of total offense.

"He's definitely a deep ball threat," Nesbitt said. "He won his one-on-one matchups on the outside."

The Colts committed 14 penalties for 95 yards and fumbled three times, losing one.

"It was mostly holding penalties and delay of game," Nesbitt said. "They were having clock issues. It wasn't like it was personal fouls, the refs were calling holding."

Fort Hill travels to play Southern on Friday at 7 p.m.

"We need to regain our focus and our intensity," Alkire said. "That center to quarterback exchange we need to look at that."

Jordan Kendall is a Sports Writer for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @JKendallCTN.