BY ADAM BRATELY
HUBBARD They sustained long drives. They broke off big plays. They played solid defense.
The Hubbard Eagles showed visiting Marlington exactly how they rolled through the regular season unbeaten, beating the Dukes 42-14 in a Division III, Region 7 quarterfinal Friday night.
“They have a lot of speed and don’t need a lot of space,” Marlington head coach Ed Miley said. “They’ve got good football players and took advantage of the creases they got.”
The Eagles (11-0) did the bulk of their damage on the ground, rolling up 308 yards rushing. Star L.J. Scott went for 135 yards and three touchdowns on his 20 carries, while George Hill added 145 yards and two TDs on just eight carries.
Hubbard got out to a fast start and established its running game early. After forcing a Marlington punt on its first possession, the Eagles rattled off a seven play, 70-yard touchdown drive, all on the ground.
Scott had 43 of those yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run.
Scott was back at it again in the second quarter, following a Marlington fumble that set up Hubbard at the Marlington 29. Scott needed just three carries before scoring on a 4-yard run and the Eagles took that 14-0 lead into halftime. Scott had 93 yards on 10 carries in the first half.
Out of the break, the Dukes dug in and forced a Hubbard punt on its opening possession.
Marlington then drove to the Hubbard 31 before it stalled out when the Dukes failed to convert a fourth-and-1.
“We had a chance to make plays, but Hubbard’s a good football team,” Miley said.
Hubbard regained momentum with an 11-play, 64-yard TD drive. Quarterback Brendan Wassil capped it by using a play-action pass to toss a 16-yard TD to Isaiah Scott.
“I thought our offense did a good job mixing it up and keeping everyone involved ,” Hubbard head coach Brian Hoffman said. “We capitalized on some things we saw in the running game and were able to change momentum with the play-action pass.”
Hill then got loose on the first play of the Eagles’ next possession. He scored on a 66-yard run and the Eagles took a 28-0 lead into the fourth. Hill added a 48-yard TD run in the fourth.
Marlington responded with a couple of scores in the final quarter, getting some big plays of its own. Adam Blake had a nice punt return on the first play of the fourth, setting up the Dukes at midfield. Two plays later, Caleb Simmons ran through the middle of the Hubbard defense for a 35-yard touchdown run. Later, quarterback Shawn Kirk found Jake Walker down the right sideline for a 67-yard TD pass.
“We knew our team would give us 48 minutes,” Miley said. “We have a great senior class that gave us great leadership.”
Kirk went 9-of-16 for 150 yards throwing the ball. Walker caught four passes for 100 yards. Blake led the Dukes on the ground with 48 yards on 17 carries, while Simmons ran it seven times for 45 yards, and Kirk gained 35 yards on 15 attempts.
The Dukes end their season at 8-3, but Miley knows the program continues to move in the right direction after reaching the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
“Seven years ago when I took over as head coach, we had a group of kids who were tired of losing,” Miley said. “We have rolled off seven season of 5-5 or better and these seniors really did their part and I’m proud of them. People thought we might struggle this year, but we knew we had a good group of football players inside our locker room.”