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Hubs overcome jitters in victory

September 04, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

There were moments of silence through the first 11 minutes of North Hagerstown's season opener against Beall at School Stadium on Friday night.

The Hubs had netted 37 yards on 14 plays, were guilty of four penalties and botched a snap on a punt that led to a Beall safety.

Faced with a third-and-16 on their own 25 with 26 seconds left in the opening period, Hubs quarterback Robby Thompson rolled to his left and connected with Bernard Artillus about 10 yards into zone coverage. The fleet-footed senior went the remaining distance that helped shake the jitters and lead North on to a 45-9 victory over Beall in the first meeting between the schools.

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"We had jitters at first ... out of synch," Thompson said after his 8-for-17 passing performance that produced three TDs and 208 yards.

"The penalties aren't our style and there were a few things Beall did that we didn't expect," said coach Dan Cunningham. "We were a little confused with some of our blocking assignments but we got refocused and opened up the passing game."

After an interception by Beall halted one drive, the Hubs exploded for three scores in the final 5:45 of the second period after a Beall field goal attempt from 32 yards by Robert Fuller sailed to the left.

Thompson rang up his second scoring strike as he hit Darail Porter from 53 yards on another pass-run mixture. Thompson was hurried on the effort and Porter managed to outrun two defenders.

After Beall muffed North's deep kickoff, the Hubs made the Mountaineers pay for the mistake when Leon Finley scored the first of his two rushing TDS, hitting paydirt from five yards out.

Porter had a 17-yard punt return that set up North's next score, a 14-yard pass from Thompson to Quielan Gantt with nine seconds left in the half. The TD capped a 40-yard drive.

"(Beall) was cheating on defense with their outside backers and safeties so we were able to adjust with outside passes," Thompson said.

Beall's first possession of the second half couldn't have made them feel any better.

North's Dink Snowden rushed through the line to block a Fuller punt and Artillus was on the spot to pick up the football and dash 10 yards for a score.

Another North defensive stand and a 31-yard punt return by Porter gave the Hubs possession at the Beall 29, and three plays later Finley darted into the end zone from nine yards for a 42-2 lead at the 8:29 mark of the third.

"I just want to be able to contribute .. I've got to help fill spots from last year," said Finley after his 56-yard performance.

Brent Toms, who had seven extra points, booted a 41-yard field goal with 6:48 left in the third, set up by a 54-yard run from Matt Ridenour.

"Two of the TD passes were checked off at the line," Cunningham said. "Robby has the option of making changes, and I'm impressed with the job he did on audibles."

In winning their second straight season opener, the Hubs limited Beall to 118 total yards, many coming late in the game. Overall, North had 331 total yards.

"Overall, the defense had a great opening game," Cunningham said. "Special teams took advantage of some situations."

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