Howard senior running back Guy Smith ignored a nagging shoulder injury to rush for two touchdowns and the Lions' defense forced six Glenelg turnovers in a 20-6 victory yesterday.
Howard (5-1, 2-1) keeps its county title hopes alive with the win. Host Glenelg (4-2, 1-2) faces a tough road to return to the state playoffs, with Centennial, Hammond and Atholton remaining on its schedule.
"Nothing went right for us, and now we've got to rebound," Glenelg coach Ed Ashwell said. "I wouldn't say we're out of the county-title race, but it is getting bleaker."
After the final Glenelg turnover, an interception returned for a touchdown by Howard junior linebacker Corey Curtis, Lions coach John Quinn uncharacteristically displayed a little sideline relaxation, slapping a high five with reserve senior tackle Anton Lomax, as he walked over to the bench to sit down for a drink of water and a smile.
"I thought to myself, 'Maybe I can stop pacing now,' " said Quinn. "We knew to beat Glenelg we would have to get some breaks, which we did, and we would have to play some great defense and get a big play."
Howard got all it wanted.
The Gladiators' only break came in the first quarter when Howard junior punter Cliff Frazer let a high snap sail through his hands and Glenelg linebacker Mike Goldberg fell on the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Howard's Brian Bush (three catches, 53 yards) blocked Glenelg kicker Pierre Grenier's extra-point try.
On the next play from scrimmage, Howard quarterback Dalawn Parrish fed a perfect pitch to Smith (15 carries, 119 yards) at the 20, and the senior back outraced the Glenelg secondary for an 80-yard touchdown. Kicker Andy Holloway converted the extra point to give the Lions the lead for good, 7-6.
After Smith's 13-yard touchdown run gave the Lions a 14-6 lead at the end of three quarters, the Howard defense dominated the fourth quarter. On four successive Glenelg series, Howard ended the drives by forcing a turnover.
Glenelg's first turnover came at the start of the fourth quarter, when linebacker Turrae Jones made a solid hit on Glenelg senior running back James McKenny (22 carries, 99 yards), popping the ball loose and into the arms of Lions teammate Biira Letam.
Howard's Curtis delivered a similar blow to junior running back Mike Demming on the next series, and Parrish recovered the ball in midair to halt the Gladiators' deepest drive of the second half, inside the Howard 20.
"I just think we're a real good second-half team," Howard senior defensive captain Seth Eldridge said. "We just come to play as hard as we can and not worry about the hype and any stuff in the newspapers."
Eldridge (14 tackles) recovered the third Glenelg fumble with 3:50 left in the fourth quarter. Minutes later, Curtis intercepted Gladiators junior quarterback Sean Lookingbill (seven of 17, 64 yards), and returned the ball 25 yards for a touchdown with 1:02 left in the game.