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Antietam is Hubs' domain

October 30, 2004|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Buddy Orndorff got the start he wanted from his Smithsburg football team.

The North Hagerstown Hubs also gave Orndorff the finish he was afraid he would see.

The No. 4 Leopards scored two touchdowns in the first four minutes of the game before being shut down the rest of the way as the No. 3 Hubs wore down Smithsburg 34-14 Friday night to earn no less than a share of the MVAL Antietam Conference title.

North (8-1, 6-0) can clinch the title outright next week with a victory over South Hagerstown at School Stadium or a Smithsburg loss to Boonsboro.

Three big plays provided the Leopards (8-1, 5-1) with their two scores, but in the end, they also made up the majority of the offensive production.

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"We jumped off quick. We had our wish," Orndorff said. "But with all their depth, they wore us down. That's what I was afraid was going to happen."

On the third play from scrimmage, Matt Feiser broke through the center of the line for a 28-yard gain all the way down to the Hubs 42-yard line.

One play later, Matt Thompson finished the drive and got the Leopards on the scoreboard with just 2 minutes, 16 seconds gone.

The Hubs answered on their first possession with a big play of its own as Leon Finley ran 56 yards to the Smithsburg 9. Dean Staley scored from the 4 to knot the score at 7-7.

Thompson took the ensuing kickoff at his own 5 and found daylight down the right sideline, slowed only slightly by kicker Brent Toms' diving tackle attempt as Thompson went 95 yards for a 14-7 lead.

"After that kickoff return, we could have tucked our tails between our legs and said, 'This is going to be a long night,'" North coach Dan Cunningham said. "But you could see in the glare in their eyes. They didn't let down."

The Leopards defense, spearheaded by Feiser, kept the Hubs from scoring again in the first, taking over possession on a punt, a missed field goal and an interception.

But Smithsburg did little to convert, running six plays in three possessions and giving the ball back to the Hubs on an interception, a fumble and a punt.

After gaining 61 yards on their first drive, the Leopards managed just 40 yards the rest of the game.

"We self-destructed. Jumping offsides, fumbled snaps ... three series in a row," Orndorff said. "You can't do that against a team like North High."

The Hubs began to take advantage early in the second quarter, sparked by a 50-yard punt return by Bernard Artillus. Three plays later, Robbie Thompson hit Phil Johns in the end zone for an 8-yard score to tie the game.

Later in the period, Jon Breehl dived on a Smithsburg fumble to give the Hubs great field position again, starting at the Leopards 26. Finley scored the first of his two touchdowns to give North the lead for good, 21-14.

"We're a slow first-quarter team. Really, the second and third quarters have been the best for us this season," Cunningham said. "We readjust after the first and really focus on the second and third quarters."

North put the game away on its first drive of the second half as Quielan Gantt made a nifty leaping catch for a 22-yard touchdown pass from Thompson.

"They just wore us down. They must have had 15 different people run the ball tonight," Orndorff said. "Every time I looked up there was a different kid running the ball."

Finley finished with 122 yards rushing and Thompson threw for 78 for the Hubs.

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