MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A senior class unbeaten throughout its high school career at Martinsburg continued to add to its legacy Saturday afternoon at Cobourn Field.
Six of the Bulldogs’ seven first-half touchdowns were scored by a senior as No. 1 Martinsburg eased its way back to the Super Six with a 77-20 win over No. 4 Parkersburg South in a Class AAA semifinal.
Martinsburg (13-0) will face No. 2 Cabell Midland (13-0) at noon Saturday in the AAA title game. The Bulldogs will bring a 55-game win streak to Wheeling and are four quarters from claiming a fourth straight state championship and eighth in the last 10 years.
Saturday’s contest was like so many the Bulldogs have played over the last four seasons — it featured Martinsburg getting off to a fast start, never looking back and a running clock being utilized throughout the fourth quarter.
“It was a team effort. Defensively, we played really well,” Bulldogs’ head coach David Walker said. “Offensively, we had to settle in, and once we settled in and started clicking we did a lot of things we wanted to do.”
Senior Jarod Bowie’s 37-yard punt return set up a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Elijah Banks that allowed Martinsburg to take a 7-0 lead 2:02 into the action.
Banks, a senior, found classmate Teddy Marshall for a 14-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-5 to double the Bulldogs’ advantage at the 5:37 mark of the opening quarter.
Martinsburg then perfectly executed a pooch kickoff that was recovered by Kai Walker to immediately give the Bulldogs the ball back at the Patriots’ 36-yard line.
Kevon Warren covered that distance on the next play, giving the Bulldogs two touchdowns in 15 seconds.
Parkersburg South (11-2) responded with a 70-yard scoring drive and reached the end zone on Devin Gaines’ 1-yard run, but the point-after try was blocked.
MHS took advantage of a short field early in the second quarter and Bowie’s 1-yard TD run stretched the lead to 28-6 at the 10:30 mark of the frame.
“Everytime I touch the ball, I try to do something good,” Bowie said. “I try my hardest to get to the end zone.”
After forcing a three-and-out, Martinsburg again started in Patriots’ territory and added to its advantage when Banks stretched ball over the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the 3.
Malakai Brown intercepted a Brandon Penn pass in the red zone to prevent the Patriots from drawing any closer in the opening half.
After starting on its 20, Banks threw a 43-yard pass to Bowie and the duo connected again on a 20-yard scoring strike, making it 42-6.
On the play prior to Bowie’s touchdown reception, Penn suffered what appeared to be a serious lower back injury while playing defense. He left the stadium in a stretcher and was put in an ambulance.
“I imagine it’s probably fairly serious if he had to be carried off the field,” PSHS head coach Nathan Tanner said. “That’s not the type of kid he is. My hopes and prayers are with him. I talked to him when he was in the ambulance, but he didn’t really have anything to say.
“He was obviously in pain, but he was hurting more about not being out here I think. Brandon’s a heck of a kid. I’m very proud of him.”
Banks’ third and final rushing touchdown of the opening half came from 1 yard as time expired, sending Martinsburg to the locker room in front 49-6.
At the break, Banks was 8-of-14 passing for 165 yards. The Patriots, meanwhile had 99 total yards, 70 of which came on the drive that ended with Brown’s interception.
“Our defensive front was really good and they struggled blocking us,” Walker said. “I’ll give credit to them though. They have some really nice players and they’re well-coached. I didn’t anticipate us winning by this big of a margin.”
The Bulldogs picked up where they left off to start the second half, with Trey Sine taking a direct snap and rushing for a 37-yard touchdown on the second play of the third quarter.
Brown’s second interception — this one on a pass by Penn’s replacement, Sam Schuler — helped set up Warren’s 1-yard rushing score that made it 63-6 at the 9:07 mark of the third.
Warren added a 20-yard rushing touchdown 1:35 later and an Anthony Smith interception led to Martinsburg’s final touchdown — a 20-yard run by Braxton Todd with 3:04 left in the third.
John Kinnaird’s 76-yard TD and Schuler’s 10-yard TD pass to Landon Fransisco allowed the Patriots to add to their point total and capped the scoring.
“We knew from a psychological standpoint that you couldn’t come in intimidated and couldn’t have any mishaps,” Tanner said. “At times, we fell victim to those.”