The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 11, 2012

Eagles ousted

Martinsburg shuts out Woodrow 39-0

MARTINSBURG — As if on cue, the buzzards began circling Cobourn Field at the end of the first quarter of Martinsburg’s Class AAA playoff opener against Woodrow Wilson.

With that, the possibilities of Woodrow Wilson pulling off a monumental upset vanished.

Quarterback Justin “Cookie” Clinton ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw for two more as the No. 2 Bulldogs (10-1) turned back the No. 15 Flying Eagles (6-5) 39-0 Saturday afternoon in a Class AAA first-round playoff game.

With Martinsburg holding a 7-0 lead after the first quarter, it appeared as if Woodrow Wilson wasn’t partaking of the Kool-Aid that proclaimed two-time defending champion Martinsburg as one of the teams to beat in the race to Wheeling Island.

That was soon to change.

As the buzzards circled, Cedric Brown stepped in front of an Andrew Johnson pass and returned it 70 yards for an apparent touchdown.

It was called back by a block in the back, but it hardly mattered.

Clinton winged it downfield to Brown, who got behind the Flying Eagles defense for a 53-yard touchdown and a 15-0 Bulldogs lead.

The buzzards soon departed, and apparently took Woodrow Wilson’s offense with them.

Martinsburg went on to pitch its second consecutive shutout and advance to a rematch with Musselman, the team it shut out (73-0) in its season finale.

“We had seen something we thought we could hit on them in the series prior to that one,” Martinsburg coach Dave Walker said of the play. “So we took a shot and we hit it.”

Woodrow Wilson coach John H. Lilly said it didn’t take a genius to figure out how it happened and how big the play was.

“You just have to give them credit in that situation,” Lilly said. “We got a break on the (interception) return but they made a big play. That’s what they are capable of. We have one of the fastest teams in the southern part of the state. We’ve got some fast guys, but they have four or five more than we do.

“You look at it, and that’s a 12-point swing right there. It was huge.”

After holding Woodrow Wilson to a three-and-out on the next series, Martinsburg took over at the Woodrow 27-yard line after a 7-yard punt.

Four plays later, Trey Boyd, making his first appearance since the fourth game of the season, when he sustained an injury late in the Bulldogs’ loss to Westminster (Md.), took it in from nine yards out.

“Nobody wanted to be back on the field more than I did,” said Boyd, a sophomore who transferred from a Florida 6A school. “I felt like I had something to prove to my teammates and the fans. I really wanted to get 100 yards but I will definitely settle for the W (win).”

Boyd finished with 10 carries for 85 yards.

Martinsburg led 22-0 at the break.

The Bulldogs turned a pair of Woodrow turnovers and a long drive into 17 second-half points.

After Eugene German recovered a Woodrow Wilson fumble after Beckley had driven into Martinsburg territory, Clinton (10 carries, 116 yards and 10 of 16 passing for 107 yards) broke off a 75-yard touchdown run.

The Bulldogs flashed their backfield depth on their next drive. Five different players had carries on a 60-yard drive that ended in a 38-yard Tyler Dehaven field goal that made it 32-0.

Another turnover led to Martinsburg’s final score, a Clinton to Malique Watkins 18-yard pass with 10:56 remaining.

“We continually shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers and every time we got some momentum, we’d have a penalty or something else happen that took it away,” Lilly said. “They are a great football team. You can’t have turnovers and beat good teams, much less a great team like they have. Every time we had a positive happen, we would do something to take it away.”

Clinton opened the game with a 60-yard kickoff return to the Woodrow Wilson 10, but the Bulldogs turned it over when the Flying Eagles’ Hunter Griffith fell on a Clinton fumble at the Woodrow 16.

Woodrow was forced to punt and the Bulldogs got their first score on an 8-yard Clinton run after being given a short field when the Eagles got off a 29-yard punt.

Woodrow then had its best drive of the game, picking up three first downs before the buzzards began circling.

Despite the shutout, Walker wasn’t totally happy with his team’s play.

“Anytime you get a shutout, you have to say the defense played well,” Walker said. “But offensively, I thought we played without a lot of enthusiasm. We were not the same team today that we were (against Musselman) two weeks ago.”

Woodrow got nearly all its offense from senior quarterback Johnson. He was 10 of 19 passing for 91 yards and rushed 16 times for 94 yards. The rest of the team accounted for 14 carries for minus-1 yard.

“We felt like he was the key to what they were doing and wanted to slow him down,” defensive tackle Eugene German said. “We felt if we could limit what he did and keep him in check we would be OK. He made a lot of plays but we did a pretty good job on him.”

Martinsburg had 255 yards rushing and 107 passing in the game (362 yards), while Woodrow was limited to 184 yards of total offense.

“I’m sure when I look at the tape, I will feel a little better about what we did,” Walker said. “Right now, I don’t think we had a lot of enthusiasm. Beckley has a good team and their kids kept battling to the end.”

Lilly agreed with the assessment, to a degree.

“I’m proud of our guys, they didn’t quit all season and we were starting four sophomores on defense,” Lilly said. “That says a lot about the effort. On offense, we lose about 3,000 yards (in Johnson and back Ramon Edwards). They will be hard to replace.”

Martinsburg now faces the prospect of Musselman returning to Cobourn Field next weekend (days and times will be released today”.

“That (73-0 Martinsburg win) doesn’t mean anything,” said Walker, a Pineville native. ‘We played as close to a perfect game that you can and we know we will need another effort like that.”

— E-mail: dmorrison@journal-news.net or on Twitter @sddsports

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