Host Northern had the relentless momentum of a runaway train as it railroaded North Hagerstown, 43-20, last night in a Maryland State 3A quarterfinal.
The Patriots (11-0) next will play host to the winner of today's Bladensburg-McDonough match. Last year Northern lost in the semifinals to Magruder, 13-0.
The Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champions used an aggressive run-and-shoot offense to build a 23-0 halftime lead.
Patriots running back Damian Jones rushed for 72 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
"Everything seemd to be clicking," said Jones. "We are looking to get beyond the semifinals."
Northern scored on its first drive, a 68-yarder, in 10 plays -- capped by Jones's one-yard run.
After stopping North Hagerstown in four downs, the Patriots scored with 2:11 left in the first quarter on Jones's one-yard dash, making it 13-0.
North Hagerstown quarterback Danny Cunningham lobbed a pass into the flats that defensive back John Burke intercepted. Burke's pickoff set up a five-play scoring drive in the opening minutes of the second quarter. It also set up Jones's third touchdown, a 12-yarder.
With a 20-0 lead with 11:55 left in the half, Northern Coach Jerry Franks decided against playing it safe and opted for an onside kick. Franks's gambit paid off with a 20-yard Steve Padgett field goal.
"The game wasn't over yet and you have to get total control," Franks said. "They have an explosive offense and the proved that they could come back and score on us later in the game."
Northern's first-half momentum carried over into the second half when Steve Windsor returned a Hubs' fumble 55 yards with 10:15 left in the quarter, making it 30-0.
North Hagerstown (8-3) scored nearly four minutes after its second turnover when Shawn Ferguson dashed in from five yards.
Northern went to a passing game and used running back Earl Harris to gain 80 yards rushing. He scored an 11-yard touchdown with 3:45 left in the third.
North Hagerstown added two more scoring drives as Cunningham found his target, but Northern added another score after Harris's touchdown.
Dennis Jones hit J.C. Price with an eight-yard drop pass, making it 43-6.
"We played with a lot of intensity and emotion," said Franks. "I think we sort of lost some of it after Burke's touchdown interception, but we got it back."