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Howard football scores 28 unanswered to beat Sherwood, 34-14, for region title

After falling short in the 4A state semifinal round a year ago, the Howard football team seemed to be on a mission all season long.

The Lions swept through Howard County, but against an unfamiliar opponent on Nov. 20, they kept up the pace and showed just how dominant they can be.

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Howard (12-0) scored 21 straight in the second quarter and 28 unanswered points to finish off Sherwood, 34-14, to win its second consecutive 4A North region title.

"It feels great. Everybody in the state said we weren't going to do what we did last year, it just feels great to prove everybody wrong," said Howard senior running back Malik Anderson. "(Our chances are) looking great right now. We're all hyped, we're all just going to enjoy the win and get back at it tomorrow."

Anderson finished the game with 90 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, but did most of his damage in the passing game. Quarterback Casey Crawford found Anderson five times in the air for 118 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 291 yards, with one interception and four touchdowns, two of which went to Cameron Carlyle, who caught four balls for 126 yards.

Trailing the Warriors 14-6 early in the second quarter, Lions coach Bruce Strunk never doubted that his team could come back.

"I knew we were capable of it. These kids work hard everyday and at no time at all did they feel like they were down," he said. "They just kept playing and playing, and I'm very proud of that."

On Howard's first drive after Sherwood extended the lead, Crawford found Anderson over the middle for a 50-yard touchdown reception.

Anderson then gave Howard the lead on its following offensive possession, punching in a 3-yard touchdown run with 3:11 left in the half. This time the Lions converted on the two-point attempt, giving them back the lead at 20-14.

"It feels great to know that I can do it at both positions," Anderson said. "It makes me more of a threat to other teams."

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Anderson found the end zone for the third time before the end of the half when Crawford hit him out of the backfield. The shifty back made his way for a 31-yard score – giving the Lions the 27-14 advantage.

"He runs hard. He is a tough kid, and he's our little spark plug," Strunk said of Anderson.

Howard kept the Sherwood offense in check in the second half, forcing three punts, two turnovers and a turnover on downs.

Tanner Scaife registered the interception for Howard, picking off Warriors quarterback Shawn Bliss on a second and 10 in the third quarter, and Felix Fonmedig recovered a botched snap late in the fourth quarter that all but sealed the game for the Lions.

"Tanner had a great game, but again we have a lot of guys who are just consistent," Strunk said. "Everybody just does their job and we call on them, they answer. Tanner, Cameron, Malik and the other guys – everyone played well. The line stepped up tonight, and played a great game."

Crawford closed out the game with a touchdown pass to Carlyle with 5:27 remaining. On a third and goal from the five, Crawford rolled right and found Carlyle in the corner of the end zone for the score. The made point-after solidified the 34-14 outcome and the Lions' place in the state semifinal for the second consecutive year.

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"It feels a lot different," said Anderson. "Just last year coming up short – this team right here, just wanted it more."

The Lions took the early lead after scoring on the first play of the game. Crawford found Carlyle uncovered in the slot, who finished it off for a 66-yard touchdown.

Sherwood was hit with a major injury in the middle of the opening quarter, as star wide-out Marcus Simms exited the game after making a 42-yard catch down the sideline. The West Virginia University commit never came back into the contest.

Despite the loss of Simms, the Warriors relayed on senior Christian Willis and junior Travis Levy on the outside. On Sherwood's first scoring drive, Bliss went to Willis on three consecutive plays, which was capped with an 11-yard touchdown grab with 14 seconds left in the quarter – giving the Warriors a 7-6 lead.

After forcing a Howard punt on the ensuing possession, Sherwood drove down the field from its own 26-yard line, and eventually Bliss connected with Levy on a 19-yard strike, pushing the lead 14-6 with 8:40 remaining in the half.

But it was the last time the Warriors would see the end zone this season.

The dominating performance gives the Lions a lot of confidence heading into the game next week.

Howard will face Broadneck, which knocked off Old Mill, 7-0, to win the East region title, in a state semifinal game next week.

"I think it helps that some of the guys have been in that game before," said Strunk. "So it's no strange territory for us, but you know what, we're going to have one hell of a team whoever is coming. It looks like it is Broadneck, they are a great team, they are well coached, and I don't know if you are ever prepared, because you don't know what your going to get until they get here. But we'll be ready."

Howard (12-0) – 6 21 0 7 – 34

Sherwood (10-2) – 7 7 0 0 – 14

First quarter

Ho: Casey Crawford 66-yard pass to Cameron Carlyle (kick failed) [6-0]

S: Shawn Bliss 12-yard pass to Christian Willis (Harrison kick) [6-7]

Second quarter

S: Bliss 19-yard pass to Travis Levy (Harrison kick) [6-14]

Ho: Crawford 50-yard pass to Malik Anderson (conversion failed) [12-14]

Ho: Anderson 3-yard run (Crawford to Maleek Thompson) [20-14]

Ho: Crawford 31-yard pass to Anderson (Michael Gillespie kick) [27-14]

Fourth quarter

Ho: Crawford 5-yard pass to Carlyle (Gillespie kick) [34-14]

Other score:

Reservoir won its first ever region title with a 10-7 win over Glenelg in the Class 3A East region championship game on Nov. 20. Click here to read a story about that game.

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