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TJ pops North's bubble

September 22, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

The North Hagerstown football team resembled a balloon with a slow leak.

The Hubs took a nick late in the first half, looked slightly deflated at the half and just ran out of air by the end of the game.

Thomas Johnson and running back Terrence Kerns provided the needle that sent the Hubs to a slow, steady death in a 42-7 loss in a Thursday afternoon matinee at School Stadium.

Kerns, who is verbally committed to play for West Virginia next season, got on track on the second half, collecting 122 of his 164 yards in the last 24 minutes, to leave the Hubs gasping.

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"They opened us up and took advantage of where we are weak in the middle," North coach Danny Cunningham said. "The D-line needs to eat some blocks to help out our linebackers and didn't do it."

It wasn't the story in the first half. North seemed to control Kerns with gang-tackling methods. The Hubs even led 7-6 with 10:01 left in the half after quarteback Logan Kelso burrowed in on a 3-yard keeper.

The Hubs began another drive until TJ called time for an on-field defensive conference.

"We were flat and we weren't playing real well," TJ coach Ben Wright said. "We had to get them excited. Defensively, we were overpenetrating and we had a couple of kids who didn't play because they were hurt. We just made sure they were tackling."

TJ stoned North after the timeout and started the turnaround.

Then the Patriots went on a non-flat diet, with a steady helping of Kerns' running to sustain them.

The Patriots ran off a nine-play drive after the defensive stop, capped by a 11-yard touchdown run by Kerns to take a 14-7 lead. TJ popped North's bubble by scoring with three seconds remaining in the half as quarterback Dustin Muse hit Taylor Hubbard on a slant across the middle for a 21-7 lead.

"It was a miscommunication," Cunningham said. "We had a safety who didn't pay attention to the coverage. Everyone else did their job, but he missed the assignment."

TJ did all their adjusting - especially the mental variety - at the half and took it to the Hubs. Kerns started out ripping off yardage, including runs of 30 and 40 yards, to help the Pats pull away.

"They were up there looking like they were running a nine-man front," Wright said. "We started doing some things to go wide."

By making Kerns a moving target, Thomas Johnson's attack opened up. The Pats scored three straight times in the third quarter - two on runs of 25 and 19 yards by J.D. Jones - to move to the 35-point lead and start the running clock for the rest of the game.

"They were big and they wore us down," Cunningham said.

The biggest highlight for North came in running back Diez Johnson, who ran for 148 yards, but fumbled to set up TJ's last score.

"The game plan was to take the air out of the ball and keep Kerns off the field," Cunningham said. "But we couldn't afford to put the ball on the turf and we did that a little. This one hurts. We learned how to win early in a shootout and now every game is a shootout and we aren't keeping up."

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