MARTINSBURG – Martinsburg weathered the storm and Morgantown on Friday night in the first round of the Class AAA football playoffs.
The third-seeded Bulldogs turned a close game into a second-half runaway as Murphy Clement, acting as Martinsburg’s quarterback at times, scored three touchdowns as he propelled the Bulldogs to a 42-14 victory.
Martinsburg held a 14-7 halftime lead but scored on three of their first four possessions after a nearly hour-long break due to lightning.
Clement proved to be the real lightning bolt, completing touchdown passes for 10, 2 and 14 yards.
“The coach told me it was raining, I could win the ball 40 times,” Clement said.
It rained the whole second half.
“Murphy had a little setback with that fumble, but he did a good job in the second half,” Martinsburg coach Britt Sherman said.
Martinsburg’s two touchdowns in the first half came from running back Zion Grantham in the passing game.
As a safety valve, Zion Grantham turned into one hell of a receiver.
Seeing quarterback Ezra Bagent scrambling, Grantham, who had run an average route, took off towards the end zone and got behind a defender to catch a 32-yard touchdown pass.
This gave Martinsburg a 7-0 lead.
“When I saw Ezra running I knew I had to get to the end zone so I could open up,” said Grantham, who made most of the first-half run for Martinsburg. and had 52 yards at intermission.
Morgantown responded quickly as Jacob Keir executed the ensuing kickoff 77 yards from the goal line and then caught an 8-yard touchdown pass on a rocket thrown by Maddox Bowers.
Then a sloppy play ensued for most of the rest of the half as the Bulldogs lost a fumble then threw an interception into the red zone, while Morgantown had a pass intercepted deep in Martinsburg territory .
“We had too many turnovers,” Sherman said, “throwing the ball to the other team and fumbling for the ball. The defense played really well because we gave them so much possession.”
Finally, the Bulldogs pulled off a 68-yard drive to take the lead before the teams retreated to their locker rooms.
Grantham floated and Bagent looped the running back and he rushed to the left sideline for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:01 left in the first half.
“When I was running I saw the linebacker coming in, so I knew I had to go deep,” Grantham said.
Morgantown went 28-14 in the fourth quarter as Brodrick Washington barely slipped into the end zone from the 1-yard line.
However, the next time the Mohigans entered the Martinsburg 1, the Bulldogs repelled Caleb Nutter on fourth down and, shortly after, Bagent connected with the rarely used Brayden Herring on an 88 touchdown pass. yards.
Morgantown finished the season at 6-5 and the Bulldogs improved to 9-2.
Martinsburg will host Bridgeport or Cabell Midland in the second round of the playoffs.