By Sean McNamara – Times West Virginian for WVMetroNews.com
It was an exciting Week 7 in the Eastern Panhandle, as Martinsburg faced its toughest test of the season, East Hardy stayed undefeated, Musselman bounced back from a tough loss and Washington earned its first victory of the year.
The Bulldogs’ win over Sherando, 31-28, came on a last-minute field goal from Lucas Duffy, and helped propel Martinsburg into a tie for second in the WVSSAC Class AAA playoff rankings.
East Hardy got the best of Tucker County, while Musselman won big over Hedgesville and Washington topped Frankfort.
As the playoff picture continues to develop, East Hardy has capitulated into the top spot in Class A while Martinsburg has moved into a tie for second and Musselman has moved up to No. 4 in Class AAA, while Keyser moved into No. 7 in Class AA.
Spring Mills at No. 13 in Class AAA and Hedgesville at No. 7 in Class AAA are each in playoff position, as well.
This week’s games will be headlined by an Eastern Panhandle matchup between Martinsburg and Hedgesville.
Martinsburg (7-0) at Hedgesville (5-2), Friday
The Martinsburg Bulldogs earned a hard-fought victory in their first close game in some time last Friday, defeating Sherando on the road, 31-28.
“They’ve got a great program, and obviously they’ve got great players,” Martinsburg coach Dave Walker said after the game. “They’re well coached. They do a great job.
“We always have trouble with those guys. They’re a good team.”
Martinsburg turned the ball over on its first play from scrimmage, but quickly responded as Jalen Hesen returned an interception for a score on the next snap.
The homestanding Sherando Warriors answered quickly, and, despite three touchdowns from Martinsburg’s Dewayne Grantham, led the game until the very end when Lucas Duffy hit a game-winning 24-yard field goal to cap a long drive and clinch the Bulldogs’ 21st straight win.
“We were working against the clock, but (quarterback) Tyson (Bagent) made some good throws and good runs to get down there,” Walker said of the game-winning drive. “Lucas Duffy, our kicker, nailed it for us.
“It was a big-time play for us, and you have to have guys to make plays for you in the end to make plays for you.”
Bagent threw for 202 yards in the win while Grantham rushed for 78 yards to lead the Bulldogs.
Martinsburg is now tied for second with University in the WVSSAC Class AAA playoff rankings, and this week’s opponent are the 5-2 Hedgesville Eagles, who are coming off a 49-21 loss to Musselman in the WVMetroNews Class AAA Game of the Week.
One of the Eastern Panhandle’s top signal callers, Hedgesville’s Jason Plotner, threw for three touchdowns and three interceptions for the Eagles in the loss. His touchdown passes found Hunter Coe, Malakai Brown and N’yjere Smith.
As the Eagles, now tied for seventh in the Class AAA playoff rankings, look to bounce back off the loss, they will have a tall task ahead of them against the Bulldogs.
Not only will this matchup feature two Eastern Panhandle rivals, but two coaches who know each other well in Walker and Hedgesville coach Joey Yurish.
“(Hedgesville) Coach (Joey) Yurish played for me here at Martinsburg,” Walker said. “He’s done a really nice job out there. He’s got things headed in the right direction.”
While the Bulldogs may be favored coming into the game, with a dangerous quarterback in Plotner leading his team into the rivalry game, Walker and his Martinsburg team will not be overlooking Hedgesville.
“I know their kids are going to play hard,” Walker said. “It’s a rivalry, and it ought to be an exciting matchup for both teams.”
Musselman (5-1) at Hampshire (2-4), Friday
On the heels of a Week 6 loss to Morgantown, the Musselman Applemen earned 49-21 win over then No. 5 Hedgesville last week to improve their record to 5-1.
After losing a game to the Mohigans that Musselman thought it could have won, the victory over Hedgesville was satisfying to coach Brian Thomas as his team looks to get back on track.
“We did some things in that Morgantown game that – credit to them, they earned the win – but at the same time, we came back and got the lead in the third quarter and had the ball in the red zone fourth and 1, and got stopped,” Thomas said. “We thought that was a chance to go up and seal the thing. Then we let them back in it.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but this week we came out and tried to fix those mistakes. I think the improvement is probably what I’m most pleased with.”
In the win, Blake Hartman accounted for four touchdowns, one of which was a pick-6. Jacob Northcraft continued his stellar season, adding three touchdowns in the victory.
This week, Mussleman, now ranked fourth in the Class AAA playoff rankings, will take on a 2-4 Hampshire squad that lost, 39-19, in Week 7 to second-ranked University.
The Trojans rushed for 157 yards in the first half against the Hawks, with Calvin Moreland and Josh Hoopengarner each scoring touchdowns, but were shut down in the second half on the ground.
A win for Hampshire would tremendously help its playoff rankings and potentially thrust it into a postseason spot. Currently at No. 21 in the playoff rankings, the Trojans have just one less victory than three teams that would make the playoffs in the postseason started today – South Charleston, Cabell Midland and Buckhannon-Upshur.
Moorefield (0-6) at East Hardy (7-0), Friday
The East Hardy Cougars continued to roll in Week 7, winning 55-14 at home over Tucker County.
With the win, East Hardy moved into first place in the WVSSAC Class A playoff rankings, jumping St. Marys and South Harrison in the process.
So far this season, the Cougars are scoring an average of 37 points per game with only allowing 11 points per game defensively.
They will have a chance to pad those numbers this week against Moorefield, which is coming off a 42-0 loss at home against Northern Garrett, Maryland.
Moorefield is one of seven Class A teams still seeking its first win of the season.
Following this weeks’ game the Cougars will have a bye week before hosting South Harrison in what will be one of the premier games statewide in Week 10.
Allegany, Maryland, at Keyser (5-1), Friday
Now possessing a 5-1 record and a No. 7 spot in the WVSSAC Class AA playoff rankings, the Keyser Golden Tornado will host Allegany, Maryland in Week 8.
Keyser picked up its second shutout win of the season last week with a 32-0 rout of Man on the road.
Keyser quarterback Brady Ours completed 7-of-8 passes for 118 yards and two scores, while running for 138 yards on 10 carries. Ours’ top target was Christian Ravenscroft, who had 97 yards receiving and 69 yards rushing for the Golden Tornado.
The Allegany Campers are 5-1 this season and coming off a 48-13 win over Boonsboro last week. In that win, Allegany rushed for 409 yards, led by Karson Robinette, who ran 19 times for 159 yards and four touchdowns.
Clear Spring, Maryland, at Berkeley Springs (2-4), Friday
Jefferson (0-6) at Loudoun Valley, Friday
Frankfort (1-6) at Petersburg (2-4), Friday
Pendleton County (1-5) at Southern Garrett, Maryland, Friday