Howard stands tall, but falls to Poly 3A football

November 14, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

The cry of wait until next year rang through the air along the Howard sideline late in the fourth quarter when the idea of defeat finally had taken hold.

The Lions, hyped up by their first state playoff appearance since 1975, came away on the short end of a 28-6 score against top-ranked and unbeaten Poly in a 3A quarterfinal yesterday at Lumsden Stadium in Baltimore, but they didn't leave with their heads hanging.

In fact, the game would have ended with a Howard touchdown had Carlton Fox not dropped a pass in the end zone on the last play.

Howard (9-2) actually had more net yards from scrimmage than Poly, 228-222, but play of the special teams spelled the difference for the Engineers.

The Engineers (10-0), who gained a 7-0 lead by driving 43 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown on their first possession, used big special-teams plays as keys to their next two touchdowns.

Greg Kyler's 45-yard punt return to Howard's 15-yard line set up the second touchdown with 6:57 left in the first half. Poly scored on a 12-yard pass from Jackie Wise to Francis Giles. And then Kyler ran back the second-half kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown.

"Special teams are usually our strength but that kickoff return was the nail in our coffin. It took the fire out of us," Howard coach John Quinn said.

"We were all set to open things up offensively. Instead it was just a matter of pride after that. I really thought coming in that we could beat them."

Kyler, Poly's star running back, was held to six yards in the first half by a tenacious Howard defense.

"We took away his favorite holes," Quinn said.

But on the first play of the fourth quarter Kyler started up the middle then broke outside and ran 71 yards for a touchdown that made it 28-0.

He gained 132 yards on 12 carries and scored three touchdowns.

"He's a legitimate Division I prospect," said Quinn, who played for Penn State. "We have fast kids but he was able to run past them and he's got good size."

Quinn second-guessed himself after the game. He thought perhaps Howard should have started the game in a shotgun formation and given quarterback Dalawn Parrish room to scramble.

"Maybe we should have shocked them and opened with it," he said.

Parrish completed seven of 10 passes in the second half for 164 yards and one touchdown, but had two passes intercepted and was sacked twice.

He finished 10 for 19 for 181 yards and three interceptions and was tough to bring down when he scrambled.

"There was no quit in our kids and I'm proud of them," he said. "I think it sent a message when Poly kept its first team in there to the end. We just have to get a little bigger."

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