Howard running back Devin Dawkins said after his team's 40-6 home win over Oakland Mills that he's starting to surprise himself with how much success he's had in the Lions' 5-0 start.
"Yeah, I am because I only played one year of JV," Dawkins said after rushing for three touchdowns and 267 yards, including 190 in the first half, on 28 carries. "Coming up here on varsity my first year I'm a little surprised at what I'm doing. ... It means a lot to me. I just need to play my role, step up and help the team win."
Howard coach Bruce Strunk was less surprised by the achievement of his running back. After all, the last four Lions' tailbacks – Mike Anderson, Terrell Charles, Najee Savage and Malik Anderson – all ran for at least 1,273 yards in their respective senior seasons. Dawkins, though, might have an edge on his predecessors in the fact he is only a sophomore.
"Devin does a great job. He's a very talented kid – he's young," Strunk said. "We're fortunate to have him, but we have other guys behind him, too. I think the other guys are pushing him everyday and making him better. Competition is good. It makes everyone better."
Dawkins carried the ball six times for 95 yards in the first quarter and capped Howard's first two drives with touchdown runs of 18 and 40 yards to take an early 14-0 lead.
Junior quarterback Robby Porter let his running back do most of the work two possessions later, as Dawkins ran for 51 yards on five carries. But Porter finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown scamper, breaking a pair of tackles near the goal line to extend the Lions' cushion to 21-0.
"The line played really well," Dawkins said. "They just did what they do and executed."
After Porter threw an interception on the next drive, Howard got back to its ground game driving into the wind and rain. Dawkins carried the ball five more times and finished off a seven-play possession with his third score on a 9-yard run.
"[Dawkins] is an absolute beast," said Oakland Mills coach Tom Browne. "He's a good back. He's a slippery guy, too. It helps to have those kinds of guys."
The Lions led at the half, 27-0, but Strunk reminded his team that the Scorpions trailed Reservoir by a similar margin on Sept. 9 and came back to win.
"I told the kids about that and in weather like this anything can happen," he said. "I really didn't feel comfortable until the fourth quarter started."
DJ Howard found the end zone for the Lions early in the fourth quarter to make it 33-0, and Robert Agbai pushed the lead to 40-0 on the next possession with a 6-yard run.
The Scorpions (2-3) prevented a shutout by scoring on a 10-yard touchdown run by running back Jorie Kolliegbo on their final possession of the game.
"We got physically outmatched basically across the board," said Browne. "Their defense dominated us up front and our defense missed a lot of tackles. We got beat by a good football team tonight."
The biggest problem for the Scorpions, though, was turnovers. They committed eight in a 14-7 loss to Long Reach on Sept. 23, and on Friday it continued with six more.
Two of their three possessions of the contest ended with an interception and a turnover on downs, and in the second quarter they lost a fumble deep in Howard territory on a failed double reverse.
Oakland Mills was trailing by 14 points when it converted its first first-down conversion late in the first quarter. It managed just one more first down the rest of the first half, and the turnovers continued in the second half.
Tyri Davis intercepted Shallon Robinson, who took over at quarterback for Aaron Gibson after the first drive of the game, in the end zone early in the third quarter, and James Payne secured another interception to set up the Lions' final touchdown in the fourth.
"We've got to stop being our own worst enemy," Browne said. "Between penalties, turnovers and somewhere in between the bad snaps and the fumbled exchanges – those little details snowball into big details. We're a young team and when you're young you can't overcome that as well as you would if you had a veteran team. We've got to clean it up and get back to the basics. The little details matter."
The Lions offense had no problems moving the chains against the Oakland Mills defense. Howard converted 19 first downs to the Scorpions' seven, three of which came on their final scoring drive.
"It was big, but they had a bad game," Strunk said. "They're better than the score indicated, but we'll take it."
In total, Howard ran for 391 total yards and has now won 29 consecutive county games. It will put the streak on the line Oct. 7 at home against Centennial, while Oakland Mills will host Marriotts Ridge.
Howard (5-0) – 14 13 0 13 – 40
Oakland Mills (2-3) – 0 0 0 6 – 6
Ho: Devin Dawkins 18-yard run, Michael Gillespie kick [7-0]
Ho: Dawkins 40-yard run, Gillespie kick [14-0]
Ho: Robby Porter 10-yard run, Gillespie kick [21-0]
Ho: Dawkins 9-yard run, kick failed [27-0]
Ho: DJ Howard 10-yard run, conversion failed [33-0]
Ho: Robert Agbai 6-yard run, Gillespie kick [40-0]
OM: Jorie Kolliegbo 10-yard run, conversion failed [40-6]
Atholton (3-2) – 0 29 7 15 – 51
Hammond (0-5) – 0 0 6 0 – 6
Atholton running back Eric Love ran for two scores and 121 yards on 17 carries to lead the Radiers to a 51-6 win over Hammond.
John Heriot, Treyvon Matthews also ran for scores, while quarterbacks Dominic Totaro and Jacob Waterworth each threw a touchdown pass. Defensively, Habib Bundu and Jasen Parkins returned interceptions for scores.
Long Reach (5-0) – 26, Centennial (1-4) – 8
River Hill (3-2) – 14, Marriotts Ridge (2-3) – 7
Glenelg (4-1) – 42, Mt. Hebron (2-3) – 12
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Wilde Lake (3-2) – 10, Reservoir (0-5) – 6