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Hubs show their power and finesse

November 18, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER/Staff Correspondent

UNION BRIDGE, Md. - The North Hagerstown football team showed why opponents might consider it simply a finesse team in the first half of its Maryland Class 2A West semifinal against Francis Scott Key on Friday night.

In the second half, the Hubs showed why that notion is wrong.

North's offense showed plenty of finesse early in the game, but the Hubs proved to be just as physical later on as they knocked off the Eagles, 27-7.

The Hubs (8-3) will travel to Middletown, which beat Winters Mill 30-0, next weekend for the 2A West final.

"We build a lot of our offense around our speed, but we showed that we have some power, too," said Hubs coach Danny Cunningham. "We showed how versatile we can be."

The Hubs backfield was especially versatile, as six players rushed the ball - three for more than 65 yards. Diez Johnson bulled his way through the interior line of FSK, while Justin Donaldson and Marcellus Sumlin worked the outside to pace the Hubs running game.

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FSK (7-4) got a steady dose of the trio in the second half as North protected its two-touchdown lead - which eventually grew to three touchdowns.

"It's great because we don't have to rely on one back and we have different options," said Johnson, who ran for 71 yards and two touchdowns. "And the linemen did a great job of protecting us. Without them we wouldn't have been able to do a lot of the things we did.

"A lot of people didn't give us a chance to come in here and beat (FSK), but we showed that we have a lot of heart."

North featured Donaldson for most of its opening drive, which spanned 64 yards in less than 3 minutes. Donaldson rushed for 42 yards and capped the drive by taking a toss to the right 28 yards untouched for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead for the Hubs.

Donaldson was injured on the ensuing kickoff, but returned to the game and rushed for 79 yards on just nine carries.

The FSK offense matched North on its first offensive drive, but not in the quick-strike mode of the Hubs. It took twice as many plays and twice as much time to even the score, but the Eagles did when Brad Martz caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Chris Kolb to knot the game at 7.

Little did the Hubs know that would be the last time the Eagles would crack the end zone.

"We came in thinking it was going to be a shootout after watching them on film," Cunningham said.

Meanwhile, North maintained its shootout mindset and answered the FSK score just 23 seconds later in a way that backed its finesse reputation.

On the second play of the Hubs' second drive, quarterback Logan Kelso took a quick drop and immediately found Jarell Hasan up the left sideline. Hasan beat his defender by two steps, Kelso hit him in stride and the FSK defense had no chance at catching him as he sprinted up the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown and a 13-7 advantage.

The next big plays were made by the Hubs defense. On FSK's next two possessions, North forced two fumbles - both recovered by Tommy Evans. The second fumble was forced when Dervon Wilson hit Kolb from the blind side and Evans recovered at the FSK 6-yard-line. Johnson scored two plays later to give North a 20-7 lead.

"The hit on Kolb was big," Cunningham said. "Once we get the ball inside the 20, we figure we will score. We confused them because we kept changing our defensive fronts. We took advantage of turnovers and we didn't put the ball on the turf today. ... That was the difference."

North carried the lead into halftime and in the second half, the finesse Hubs gave way to the physical Hubs.

Kelso dropped back to pass just once and needed only to hand the ball off to his backs. The Hubs wore the FSK defense down and rushed for 149 of their 246 yards in the second half.

The North defense followed suit as it forced a third turnover on an Anthony Lee interception and shut the Eagles out in the half. The Hubs cemented the win with a goal-line stop as time expired..

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