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Howard pulls away for 28-7 win over Long Reach | Howard County football roundup

Kyle Colbert has been passing to Cooper Haberen his whole life.

The two Howard seniors have been friends since preschool and basketball teammates for more than a decade. But on Friday for the Lions’ football team, Colbert and Haberen accomplished something new.

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With Long Reach gaining momentum after scoring to pull within seven points midway through the third quarter, Colbert found Haberen for a 33-yard score — their first-ever touchdown connection — to propel Howard to the 28-7 victory.

“That’s my man. That’s my best friend,” Colbert said. “It was just awesome. It hyped everyone up, and it was definitely the turning point.”

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Haberen, who is in his first season playing football, ran up the seam on third-and-13 and corralled Colbert’s accurate strike for his first career reception.

“It’s truly rewarding to see kids who are stepping out of their comfort zone. They’re both going to play college basketball, but they said they also wanted to play high school football,” said Howard head coach Ross Hannon. “Cooper is so talented, and he works so hard. We’ve seen the talent in practice, but it’s great to see it come to fruition in a game.”

After neither team scored in the first quarter of the rivalry contest at Long Reach (1-1), the Lions found the end zone twice to take a 14-0 lead into halftime.

Curtis Eley — one of the most explosive players in Howard County — drew first blood for Howard (2-0) with a 70-yard punt return by using his elite speed and excellent vision to evade Lightning defenders.

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“The middle of the field opened up so wide,” Eley said. “Right when I looked up, I knew I was gone. I just needed a few blocks, which my teammates got for me.”

“In rivalry games, it usually comes down to an exciting play that ignites that team’s sideline, and we got that with CJ’s punt return,” Hannon said.

Colbert then doubled the Lions’ advantage with a 1-yard QB sneak a few minutes before halftime.

Long Reach’s offense — after turning the ball over three times and totaling only 49 yards in the first half — came to life after halftime. A few nice throws from quarterback Alexander Coffey put the Lightning in position for running back Julius Saunders’ 18-yard dash to bring Long Reach within a touchdown.

“The first half was really about turnovers. If we don’t turn the ball over three times, it might have been a different game,” said Long Reach head coach Jamie Willis. “But it was great to see those guys come out, take the first drive and go down and score.”

With the Lions facing a third-and-long before Haberern’s long touchdown catch, the Lightning were in position to get another defensive stop and have a chance to tie the game. However, a communication breakdown allowed the lanky Haberern to run free up the seam.

“That play really broke the game open,” Willis said. “... We’re young, and that’s what happens sometimes when you’re young.”

Long Reach’s next offensive drive ended in a turnover on downs. Aside from the Lightning touchdown drive to open the second half, Howard’s defense dominated the contest with physical play from its front seven and tight coverage from its defensive backs.

The Lions allowed only 175 yards of offense (3.5 yards per play), forced three turnovers and stopped the Lightning on downs four times. Coby Robinson intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble for Howard, and Carson Robinson’s interception in the second quarter set the Lions up for Colbert’s QB sneak score.

“I thought we won the critical downs. We won first down. [Long Reach] is a young team, and we put them in second-and-long and that’s tough for anybody. The turnovers were key, and we didn’t turn it over on offense. That was huge.”

With a few minutes remaining, Eley sealed the Lions’ triumph by pounding in a 1-yard rushing score. Eley ended the game with 10 carries for 63 yards and one reception for 18 yards on top of his long punt return touchdown.

“He means so much to us,” Colbert said of Eley, who totaled 162 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown in Howard’s Week 1 win over Reservoir. “He plays running back, receiver and kick returner. Man, he could really play quarterback, too. He’s insane.”

Both teams are back in action next Thursday. Long Reach travels to Glenelg, while Howard hosts Hammond (0-3).

Howard 28, Long Reach 7

Ho — 0 14 0 14 — 28

LR — 0 0 7 0 — 7

Scoring plays:

Second quarter

Ho: Curtis Eley 70-yard punt return, kick missed [6-0]

Ho: Kyle Colbert 1-yard run, Colbert run [14-0]

Third quarter

LR: Julius Saunders 18-yard run, Rodrigo Rodriguez kick [14-7]

Fourth quarter

Ho: Cooper Haberern 33-yard pass from Colbert, Ethan Jeanneault kick [21-7]

Ho: Eley 1-yard run, Jeanneault kick [28-7]

OTHER SCORES:

Marriotts Ridge 35, Mt. Hebron 0

The Mustangs (2-0) wasted little time getting the upper hand as Stevie Jackson took his first carry of the night 63 yards for a touchdown with 10:20 left in the first quarter and the team never slowed down from there. Kam Young ended up rushing for two touchdowns in the win, while Cole Tran also added an interception return for a touchdown on defense.

MR — 21 7 0 7 — 35

MH — 0 0 0 0 — 0

Scoring plays:

First quarter

MR: Stevie Jackson 63-yard run, Evan Bury kick [7-0]

MR: Casey Pung 5-yard run, Bury kick [14-0]

MR: Cole Tran 25-yard interception return, Bury kick [21-0]

Second quarter

MR: Kam Young 2-yard run, Bury kick [28-0]

Fourth quarter

MR: Young 14-yard run, Bury kick [35-0]

Wilde Lake 26, Atholton 0

The Wildecats (2-1) won their second game of the season, bouncing back from a loss against River Hill last week to shut out the Raiders (1-1). Wilde Lake got its scores courtesy of two touchdown passes and two interception returns for touchdowns.

WL — 7 6 13 0 — 26

A — 0 0 0 0 — 0

Scoring plays:

First quarter

WL: Amari Hutson 30-yard pass from Doniele Cooper, Glant Gladden kick [7-0]

Second quarter

WL: Keondre Dorsey 58-yard interception return, attempt failed [13-0]

Third quarter

WL: Enosh Minney 10-yard pass from Doniele Cooper, attempt failed [19-0]

WL: Ramal West 28-yard interception return, Gladden kick [26-0]

River Hill 15, Hammond 0

The Hawks (2-0) posted their second straight shutout to open the season, while the Golden Bears (0-3) are still searching for the first victory. River Hill limited Hammond’s offense to 118 total yards, with Nick Laumann (5 solo tackles, 1 assist), Zach Igwebe (5 solo, 4 assists) and Michael Crisitello (5 solo, 2 assists) leading the way.

On offense, River Hill rushed for 281 yards and had the duo of Igwebe (24 rushes for 131 yards) and Crisitello (19 for 113 and 2 TDs) pace the effort.

RH — 0 7 8 0 — 15

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Ha — 0 0 0 0 — 0

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Scoring plays:

Second quarter

RH: Michael Crisitello 5-yard run, Patel kick [7-0]

Third quarter

RH: Crisitello 5-yard run, Zach Igwebe run [15-0]

Oakland Mills 20, Centennial 14

The Scorpions (2-0) won their second straight one-score game, while the Eagles dropped to 0-3.

OM — 0 8 6 6 — 20

C — 0 8 6 0 — 14

Scoring plays:

Second quarter

C: Sam Bussink 4-yard run, Bussink run [8-0]

OM: Trevin McHargh 57-yard run, Antoine Holmes run [8-8]

Third quarter

OM: Holmes 3-yard run, run failed [14-8]

C: Bussink 10-yard run, run failed [14-14]

Fourth quarter

OM: Holmes 12-yard run, run failed [20-14]

Don’t see scores or stats from your favorite team? Send results and any game information to Brent Kennedy at bkennedy@baltsun.com and Jacob Meyer at jameyer@baltsun.com.

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