With only 25 seconds left in regulation, Howard High scores a touchdown and tops Long Reach High 14 to 7. In the game named the 2016 #HoCoSuperBowl, both schools were excited for this matchup. Howard was looking to keep their county winning streak alive and Long Reach (having their best season in MANY years) was looking to knock off their rival right down the road.
The line to get tickets to this game was amazingly long as Long Reach and Howard students were in line as early as 2:20pm (for a 5:30pm gate open time):
Long Reach fans filled up the visitors side to cheer on their team:
Tim Schwartz (Howard County Times Reporter) was at the game. His “live” tweets were a must follow last night and he did the following write up on the game:
The streak is alive.
In the most anticipated Howard County football game in years, Howard got a 14-yard touchdown reception from Cameron Hooper with 24.9 seconds remaining to edge previously undefeated Long Reach, 14-7, and become the lone unbeaten team in the county at 8-0. It also extends the Lions’ county winning streak to 32.
“I felt like the beginning of the game I didn’t do well, but the coaches had faith in me,” said Hooper, who didn’t see much action until later in the game but also had a 10-yard run and 5-yard catch on the final drive. “When the coaches called the play, I thought I had to make the play. I was just focused on catching the ball and by the grace of God I caught it.”
On a third and 7, Howard quarterback Robby Porter, who threw for 1 yard in the first half before finding a rhythm in the fourth quarter, rolled out to his right on a play action but lobbed the pass back to the left to Hooper. The ball went through the hands of Long Reach’s Jason Massengill and into Hooper’s, and he did the rest and stumbled into the end zone as the sell-out crowd erupted.
“We had to throw the ball. I thought we were having a lot of success and they were doing a really good job against us when we got into the red zone,” said Howard coach Bruce Strunk. “There was 30 seconds left and I was saving that timeout to kick a field goal. I know they’re the turnover kings and they’ve scored a lot of points on turnovers this year. An inch or two the other way and they might have taken that one back.”
Devin Dawkins was the workhorse for the Lions once again. He finished with 195 yards on a season-high 35 carries and scored the first touchdown of the game for the Lions on their second possession, as he gained all 60 of his team’s yards.
He shook a defender on his 17-yard scoring scamper, and he became the eighth different Howard running back in 10 years under Strunk to surpass the 1,000-yard mark. He has 1,190 yards to go with six 100-yard games, including five straight of at least 126.
Long Reach came back two possessions later early in the second quarter and went 76 yards on six plays, which ended with a 6-yard touchdown run from Jalen Hall to tie the score at 7.
The drive was set up by a 61-yard reception from Derrick Noble, who had a game-high 118 yards receiving on 4 receptions. It was also the first touchdown allowed by Howard in the first half of any game this season.
Lightning quarterback Tyler Raines (13-for-30, 256 yards) threw for 154 yards in the second quarter alone, completing passes of 61, 43 and 23 yards. But he also had three interceptions on the night, including two in the red zone.
“They made more plays than we did and we did something that we haven’t done all year, and that’s turn the ball over,” said Long Reach coach Jamie Willis. “We will learn from it and hopefully we don’t let it happen again. It is what it is. I feel bad for my kids, but you know what, to be the man you’ve got to beat the man, and right now [Howard] is the man. They made more plays than we did.”
The Lightning had the momentum entering the second half. They outgained Howard 158 to 11 in yardage in the second quarter and picked up three first-downs in their opening second half drive. But Lions defender Jame Payne intercepted Raines’ pass 5 yards from the end zone, and Long Reach managed just one first-down the rest of the way.
Senior defensive back Bryson Craven had two additional interceptions for Howard in his first action since fracturing his ankle Week 2. His second came with 2:46 to go at the Lions’ 41 and set up the final touchdown drive.
“I’m just happy to have cleats on,” he said. “My whole life just changed when I broke it. Watching my brothers go out every single week and do what they do made me hungry, and I wanted to put my team on my back and help my teammates. Every week I was on that sideline and I finally got my chance and made my plays.”
Both interceptions, he said, were made on the same route — a slant across the middle.
“My coaches told me about it all week at practice,” Craven said. “That’s their main go-to to get plays and I just turned my hips and made the play.”
The atmosphere in the stadium was electric from start to finish, which was expected between two unbeaten rivals whose schools are separated by about two miles.
“The kids in the community, they know each other, they grew up together, they played on the same rec teams together — they know each other very well,” Strunk said. “When you play your brother, you don’t want to lose to your brother. It was just a great high school football game and we got tested tonight, which was good. Our kids showed a lot of resiliency and they kept fighting. I’m very proud of them.”
Said Craven: “I know basically half their team from the sandbox.”
All three of Howard’s drives in the final quarter went deep into Long Reach territory. Dawkins ran the ball eight times for 51 yards on a 15-play, 80-yard drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters, but the drive stalled at the Lightning 15 and ended in a turnover on downs.
The Lions started their next drive at the Long Reach 34, but again they only managed to pick up one first down and turned it over on downs at the 21. Craven intercepted Raines on the fourth play of the following drive, and Hooper sealed the game on Howard’s next offensive possession.
“It was a bad call on my part,” Willis said of Craven’s second interception. “They lined up inside of him and I shouldn’t have called the slant. … But I love my team and my guys fought their [butts] off.”
Even with the loss, the Lightning remain in first place in the 3A East regional standings, and Willis knows his team has bigger goals ahead.
“If we stay together and work hard, we’ll get better and that’s the thing – we were better this week than we were last week. We lost, but we just were,” he said. “We’ve played close games the last couple of weeks against good teams, and our kids keep meeting the challenge. Howard is one of the best teams in Maryland and our kids know that. We met the challenge and we keep growing. If we learn from this, we will probably be happy by the end of the year.”
Howard (8-0) – 7 0 0 7 – 14
Long Reach (7-1) – 0 7 0 0 – 7
Ho: Devin Dawkins 17-yard run, Michael Gillespie kick [7-0]
LR: Jalen Hall 6-yard run, Arthur Yann Nkonoandjouo kick [7-7]
Ho: Robby Porter 14-yard pass to Cameron Hooper, Gillespie kick [14-7]
View original article here: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/sports/ph-hs-howard-football-long-reach-20161021-story.html
I was sad to see Long Reach High fall this week but proud of how hard they played on the field last night and all season long. Remember, this team had only 4 wins in the past 3 seasons…so 7-1 is a BIG improvement. Two games remain and I look forward to cheering on the team for the remainder of this season and into the playoffs.