Mistakes doom Warriors in 1A state football semifinal loss

Fort Hill’s Carter Swan (with ball) crosses into the end zone for a touchdown Saturday in a Class 1A state football semifinal against Havre de Grace. The Cumberland school advanced to a sixth straight 1A state final with a 43-6 victory over the Warriors at Greenway Avenue Stadium in western Maryland.

Since the beginning of the 2018 high school football season, a Dunbar-Fort Hill rematch in the Class 1A state final was pretty much thought be a given. Fort Hill held up its part of the deal Saturday.

The Sentinels defeated Havre de Grace, 43-6, in a state semifinal at Greenway Avenue Stadium in Cumberland. Tyreke Powell and Carter Swan combined for 247 yards rushing and four touchdowns for Fort Hill (12-0 overall).

The Sentinels posted a running clock in the second half, securing their sixth straight state final. Fort Hill will play Prince George’s County’s Douglass for the crown Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis.

Douglass, the No. 3 seed out of the South Region (14th overall based on point average), defeated defending state champ Dunbar (No. 1 overall seed), 20-6, in the other 1A state semifinal at Poly Saturday. The Poets ended Fort Hill’s four-year reign as state champs with a 30-26 victory at Navy last year.

Havre de Grace (10-3), which lost to Dunbar in last year’s 1A final four, wasn’t able to get any traction in a chilly rain at Greenway Avenue Stadium, the fabled 10,000-seat western Maryland landmark. The Warriors had only five first downs Saturday and four turnovers.

Fort Hill took the opening kickoff 78 yards in nine plays with Blake Beal scoring from a yard. The Warriors’ defense turned away the hosts on a 4th-and-1, but the offense fumbled. Powell, who rushed for 106 yards, scampered 20 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.

Swan made it 22-0 with a 3-yard touchdown run. Swan finished with 141 yards as the Sentinels rushed for 330 yards.

Fort Hill got the running clock after Swan’s second 3-yard score. Havre de Grace stopped it as senior quarterback Alex Gresock and wideout Jordan White connected for a 57-yard score off a screen pass.

The Warriors got the ball back, thanks to a successful onsides kick, but fumbled the ball back to Fort Hill. The Sentinels converted the miscue into a Colby Santmyire’s 13-yard touchdown run with 2:36 left in regulation.

It was the fourth straight year Havre de Grace’s deep postseason run has come up short. The Harford County squad lost in the 2016 and 2015 state final to Fort Hill.