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Rough first quarter leaves Hubs too far behind

September 06, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

LEESBURG, Va. -- For the sake of keeping hope alive, the North Hagerstown football team has to believe that first impressions don't mean much.

After all, it's hard to imagine a worse start than the Hubs had Friday night against Heritage (Va.) to open the season.

Ross Madison returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, and a whirl of North blunders helped the Pride take a 36-0 first-quarter lead before coasting to a 56-28 win.

"It just didn't break our way to start," said North coach Dan Cunningham. "We couldn't buy a break tonight."

On a night like Friday, they weren't for sale.

North (0-1) began its first possession at its own 20-yard line and its first three plays netted minus-2 yards. Punter Chase Worthington came in to salvage field position, but even that play went bad after the ball rolled off Worthington's foot, leading to a punt of minus-1 yard. Heritage scored two plays later for a 13-0 lead.

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A North fumble set Heritage up at the Hubs 19 to start its next drive. That one lasted only three plays before Madison scored for a 20-0 edge.

At that point, the game was only 3 minutes, 26 seconds old.

"We didn't have a lot of time to get anything going on the sidelines," Cunningham said. "It happened fast."

Any time North appeared to have figured things out, they changed in an instant.

A 52-yard pass-and-catch from Bryan Calendine to Anthony Winters had the Hubs rolling, only to be derailed by a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown to give Heritage a 27-0 lead.

A seven-play, 47-yard drive put the Hubs in Pride territory for the second time, before North turned the ball over on yet another fumbled exchange.

The Hubs had 11 fumbles in the game, nine on fumbled exchanges. They lost four.

"On the first nine plays, I think six were fumbled snaps," Cunningham said. "Calendine was a game-time decision. He's had some work in practice but not a lot behind center."

Even perfectly executed snaps may not have made a difference in the outcome because the Hubs appeared to be overmatched.

Madison finished with 227 all-purpose yards -- 119 rushing, including a 90-yard scoring run in the second half. Starting quarterback Zach Gordon was 5-for-7 for 77 yards and rushed for 79 yards, including a pair of scores.

The Heritage defense was as dominant, turning in three defensive scores -- T.J. McPhaul's interception return, David McCarthy's fumble recovery in the end zone and Dan Dykema's 36-yard fumble return -- the latter put Heritage ahead 56-6 at the end of the third quarter.

North made the game look less lopsided than it actually was by scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns. Calendine hooked up with Winters for a pair of touchdowns covering more than 50 yards each, and Dashawn Goodwin ran for a 46-yard score.

"We can fix a lot of the things we did wrong tonight," Cunningham said. "We just have to go back to work."

Winters had all three Hubs receptions and finished with 165 yards. Goodwin led the team with 70 yards rushing.

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