HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Fortunately for Howard, it didn't have to wait long to exact revenge on Glenelg for ending the Lions' 32-game county winning streak with a 25-20 victory Oct. 28.
Howard junior running back Devin Dawkins was held mostly in check, finishing with 54 yards on 16 carries, but scored three touchdowns and senior linebacker Ryan Kearney and company did the rest to shut out the Gladiators, 34-0, on Saturday night in the 60th battle for the annual Elgard Trophy.
"I thought we played great," said first-year Howard coach Ross Hannon. "Offensively [we controlled] the ball and defensively — our defensive line really we won first down and that really was the key to the game. Last year we did not. We put them in second and long and were very disciplined."
Lions senior quarterback and second-year starter Robby Porter had one of his best games of his varsity career. He completed 10-of-15 passes for 137 yards, including 78 to four different receivers in the first quarter, and managed the game with ease. Seven of his completions were for first downs.
"[The offensive line] gave me great protection all night, my receivers ran crisp routes, the running game opened up the passing game, which really helped," said Porter. "It was a full team win."
Howard's defense, however, shut down Glenelg junior running back Wande Owens, last year's Howard County Times Offensive Player of the Year and the all-time single-season rushing leader for the league. Owens, who ran for 186 yards and three scores against the Lions last fall, finished with just 39 yards on 17 carries and his longest run of the game was eight yards.
Overall Glenelg managed only 125 yards of total offense and its longest drive was seven plays.
"I knew we're a different team than we were a year ago and we're still learning to get better," said Gladiators coach Butch Schaffer. "Howard is just a tremendous football team. They're bigger and better at every position. ... There's a reason they're a 4A school and we're a 2A school."
Hannon said the game plan was focused solely on making someone other than Owens beat them and to not get tricked by the different formations.
"Last year we were taking linebackers out of the box and covering ineligible receivers," he said. "We really worked hard on that all year and that's what we were concerned about. Wande is a great football player and a tremendous running back. We game planned for him and we were going to make them beat us with somebody else."
Porter found Asheon Rodriguez for a 31-yard gain on a fourth and five to set up the first score of the game, as Dawkins punched it in from eight yards out one play later.
After Glenelg was forced to punt after a three-and-out, Howard methodically moved down field. Porter hit Anthony Reid for a 31-yard reception on the first play and found Reid again for 12 yards to move the chains and set up first and goal. Dawkins scored on a three-yard run to cap a nine play, 58-yard drive and push the lead to 13-0 with 33 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
"I saw a lot of leadership out of Robby," Hannon said. "I saw some poise and there was a little but of duress being Week 1, weather conditions were wet and it was a little bit misty, but he did a great job managing the game. We had zero turnovers and the key to winning the game was all about the ball."
Robert Agbai returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the Glenelg 32 and Howard took advantage. Porter completed two passes for 10 yards apiece and Dawkins carried the ball three times for 12 yards, the last a one-yard scamper to make it 20-0.
Howard put the game away on its ensuing possession. DJ Howard ran for 39 yards on three touches and Porter completed both of his passes for 29 yards, as Agbai capped the 10-play, 87-yard drive with a two-yard run. Agbai scored again on a 45-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
"[Revenge] was definitely on our minds," said Kearney, who was named the Howard Player of the Game alongside Demetrius Majors. "Right when we got the schedule for this year we saw they were the first game and I immediately circled that date and I knew I would have to be ready for this game. Our whole team was ready today."
It's the first time Glenelg has been shutout since the 2014 3A state semifinal loss to Damascus. It's also the sixth time since 2010 the Gladiators have lost their season opener, although they have reached the playoffs five times in that span.
On the other hand, Howard has started 1-0 every year since 2009.
The Lions will travel and face Marriotts Ridge in its season opener on Sept. 8 while Glenelg will host Mt. Hebron.
Howard (1-0, 1-0) — 13 0 14 7 — 34
Glenelg (0-1, 0-1) — 0 0 0 0 — 0
Ho: Devin Dawkins eight-yard run, Michael Peter kick [7-0]
Ho: Dawkins three-yard run, Peter kick failed [13-0]
Ho: Dawkins one-yard run, Peter kick [20-0]
Ho: Robert Agbai two-yard run, Peter kick [27-0]
Ho: Agbai 45-yard run, Peter kick [34-0]