Hubs collapse in fourth quarter

October 06, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

WESTMINSTER, Md. - Winters Mill coach Ken Johnson was sincere when he gave the North Hagerstown football team the worst possible compliment.

"That is the best 0-5 team I have ever seen," Johnson said on Friday.

Best is good, but 0-5, well, that's not.

Especially after the Hubs were the best team on the field for half, maybe three quarters, of Friday's game. But then, quarterback Ben Love threw for three touchdowns in the first 11 minutes, 59.6 seconds of the fourth quarter to lead the Falcons to 24 points and an improbable 24-23 victory over the shell-shocked Hubs.

North built a 23-0 lead by halftime and rode it through the third quarter before the dramatic collapse - ending with Love's 22-yard touchdown pass to Sam Krone down the left hashmarks and Love's run for the two-point conversion on the last offensive play of the game.

The scoring play knocked North coach Danny Cunningham, his staff and a number of players to their knees at the 25-yard restraining line on the sidelines.


"Our defensive backs didn't come to play in the fourth quarter," Cunningham said. "They were leaving a lot of cushion. We weren't in a prevent defense, but they went into the prevent mode. We stressed how we had to set the tone and we didn't do it in the second half."

Winters Mill went on the offensive in the second half after being held to 47 yards against the defensive pressure of North's new Patriot defense in the game's first 24 minutes. Love, using rollouts and elusiveness in the second half, hit on 14 of his last 24 passes for 270 yards - including 11 of 18 for 236 and all three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

"We just went to our base blocking and did more rollout protection," Johnson said. "A lot of times with pressure, the quarterback has to ad-lib. Ben was able to do it on plays."

With North leading by 23 points heading into the fourth quarter, Love started freelancing, escaping North's pressure to find time to throw. He hit Rashad Blackwell on a 33-yard score with 11:44 remaining, followed by another 38-yard TD with 5:48 left to move within 23-16 after converting a pair of two-point passes.

The final blow came on a snap with 6.1 seconds left when Love found Krone knifing down the edge of North's defense to catch the ball on the 1 before falling into the end zone with :00.4 left on the clock. Love ran a quarterback draw for the winning points.

"I thought we were in the right defense," Cunningham said. "We made the play on the receiver instead of the ball. We didn't go up with him on it."

North dominated the first half, running up 270 yards to Winters Mill's 47. The Hubs powered the middle as Diez Johnson ran for 141 of his 176 yards and a 27-yard touchdown in the first half. Justin Donaldson added 110 yards, including TD runs of 40 and 50 yards. Chase Worthington added a 25-yard field goal.

It all changed after the half as the Falcons won the yardage battle, 259-37.

"It was incredible," Johnson said. "That team is very well prepared. Was the comeback a surprise? Heck, yeah. You are always surprised at that."

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