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Hubs run past Lions

September 09, 2006|by MARK KELLER

For a while, it looked as if Friday night's season-opening football game at School Stadium would be remembered less for some memorable catches than for the many drops that occurred.

But at a second glance, the catches were just too good to be overshadowed.

Jarell Hasan made three such catches for North Hagerstown - two on the offensive side of the ball, one on defense - and the Hubs rushed for nearly 400 yards in a 40-26 victory over Liberty.

Hasan caught touchdown passes of 48 and 58 yards from quarterback Logan Kelso and picked off a desperation pass by Liberty's Colton Weaver in the final minute of the game to seal the victory for the Hubs.

"Hasan did a great job breaking off his routes, coming back to Logan when he needed to," North coach Dan Cunningham said. "And the interception was huge. We really needed that one."

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The victory helped soothe the sting of those drops ... of the penalty flags. North alone was flagged 19 times for 151 yards. Add in Liberty's nine penalties and the teams had 214 yards marched off against them.

"As coaches, we have to stay composed and take that kind of thing in stride," Cunningham said. "You can yell here and there, but you have to stay cool about it."

North trailed 26-25 and faced fourth-and-10 from the Liberty 45-yard line when Kelso lofted a pass to Tommy Evans, who leaped to make the catch for a first down to keep the drive alive. Four plays later, the Hubs took a 33-26 lead with 2:10 remaining on Kelso's 1-yard plunge and a Kelso toss to Evans for the two-point conversion.

Weaver marched the Lions downfield, just as he had all night. He hit Alex Harpine on a middle screen for 15 yards, then picked up a couple yards on a quarterback keeper. On third down, Weaver found Jared Heffler running a sideline pattern, getting the ball to him just inbounds at the North 27 with 1:17 left.

Three straight incompletions - including one that went through the hands of Trenton Joseph - left the Lions with one final shot on fourth down. Weaver rolled to his left, trying to avoid three North rushers. He lofted a Hail Mary pass, throwing against his body, that Hasan lingered under and intercepted.

"We put our defense in a bad situation a couple times tonight, but they made a couple of big plays when they needed to," Cunningham said.

Kelso finished with 181 yards on 8 of 14 passing for the Hubs. But North did the bulk of its offensive damage on the ground, rushing for 393 yards on 44 carries.

Diez Johnson carried 22 times for 161 yards and Marcellus Sumlin added 113 yards, including a 91-yard TD dash one play after Hasan's interception to close out the scoring.

The Hubs' running game Friday conjured memories of North's "three-headed monster" backfield of Bryan Slater, Derrick Keith and Rigo Valentin, which led the Hubs to a 10-0 regular-season record.

"It's pretty close. They're all capable of breaking the big play," Cunningham said. "Sumlin and Johnson showed that tonight, and (Mike) McMillan had a couple big runs."

Weaver threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns on 18 of 39 passing. Heffler had five catches for 96 yards and three touchdowns, including one on a 35-yard fumble return.

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