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Hubs rip Rebels in 50th game

November 11, 2006|by MARK KELLER

The North Hagerstown football team might have been caught hitting the snooze button one too many times in the first half of Friday's season finale against South Hagerstown at School Stadium.

In the second half, however, the Hubs were downright perky.

North took advantage of four South miscues after the break and converted all into points, turning a 7-0 game into a 44-0 blowout of the Rebels in the 50th meeting between the city schools.

"It was real quiet at halftime," North quarterback Logan Kelso said. "We got chewed out pretty good, but that got us going."

The Hubs ran just 21 plays from scrimmage in the second half, but scored 37 points by capitalizing on a South fumble, an interception and two botched snaps on punts.

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Diez Johnson ran for 88 yards and three touchdowns and Marcellus Sumlin scored twice for the Hubs.

"I think we were still worn out from last Friday," said North coach Danny Cunningham, referring to the Hubs' first game in their own home stadium. "It was an emotional week, and I think we needed a wake-up call like this."

North (7-3, 6-1) won a share of the MVAL Antietam title with Boonsboro and may have clinched a Maryland Class 2A West playoff berth. The Hubs are in a tight race with Rockville and Winters Mill for the third and fourth spots in the region.

The Hubs also took a 25-24-1 lead in the city series with their fourth straight win over South.

The Rebels (4-6, 4-3) fumbled on the second play of the second half, setting up Sumlin's 2-yard touchdown run just 3 1/2 minutes into the third quarter.

Five minutes later, North's lead increased to 16-0 when South punter Zeke Ricketts had to jump to knock down a high snap, then threw the ball through his own end zone for a safety.

On the ensuing free kick, North sophomore Justin Donaldson broke free down the sideline, returning the kick 72 yards before being dragged down by Phillips at the 2.

Johnson eventually punched it in for a 23-0 lead and the rout was on.

Donaldson later scored on a 22-yard run, Sumlin returned an interception 47 yards for a score and Johnson added a 34-yard touchdown run - all in the fourth quarter.

"Even at 16, 23-0, it was still a game," Cunningham said. "But they're so explosive, I think it was just a matter of time. And once we catch it, it's contagious."

The Rebels got an early break on North's first possession of the game. The Hubs employed a no-huddle offense and a short passing game to march the ball down the field, all the way to the South 1-yard line. But on third-and-goal - the 17th play of the drive - the Hubs committed their only turnover of the game, a fumble which was recovered by South's Drew Burger.

Taking over at its own 5, South methodically moved the ball out of its own territory, getting strong running from Eric Phillips and Tony Bender to convert two third-down situations and a fourth-and-one before stalling at the North 38 and punting.

North countered with another extended drive, this time going 80 yards in 10 plays, with Johnson capping it on a 3-yard run for a 7-0 lead.

South, which struggled on both sides of the ball in losses to Catoctin and Boonsboro in the last two weeks, hung in and again moved the ball on the Hubs. Starting at their own 23, the Rebels took 10 plays - including an 18-yard pass from Jason Waybright to Pat Mertz, who fought off Sumlin to make the catch - to move to the North 20.

But time was running out quickly on the Rebels in the first half. Waybright spiked the ball on second down to stop the clock with 13 seconds left. Then Waybright, trying to avoid a sack, was flagged for intentional grounding, taking South out of field goal range. A fourth-down pass as time expired fell incomplete.

"We had to use two timeouts earlier in the half and I was going to save that last one if we had to kick a field goal," South coach Greg Kellick said. "In Jason's defense, I told him if he felt he was in trouble to throw the ball out of bounds."

Still, Kellick said he felt good at halftime with his team only down one score.

"We had confidence. We told them at halftime this was what we wanted, to get to the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game," Kellick said. "The plan was solid, but we also couldn't make mistakes, and that didn't happen."

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