Howard sinks Middletown, 6-0

Unbeaten Knights are own worst enemies vs. Lions

Class 2A football

November 13, 1999|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It's said that good teams make their own breaks. If that age-old adage is true, then the Howard Lions are on a plane all their own following last night's Class 2A state quarterfinal.

Facing an unbeaten Middletown team that entered the game averaging 32 points a game, host Howard had just about every break go its way, taking advantage of numerous turnovers, one of which, a fumble, senior Louis Matthews returned 58 yards for the game's only score in a 6-0 win.

"I think both teams played good defense," said Howard coach Vince Parnell. "This was just a matter of turnovers and mistakes."

Said Middletown coach Tim Ambrose: "We've had that problem all year [fumbled exchanges] between the senior center and third-string quarterback. I guess we didn't resolve it tonight."

In winning their first state playoff game since 1975, the Lions (10-1) advanced to next weekend's state semifinals against the winner of today's game between Dunbar and Edmondson.

After struggling to move the ball the entire first half, totaling just 71 yards of offense, the Lions took the leads thanks to a fortuitous bounce of the ball.

Middletown's Brian Moore attempted a 37-yard field goal near the end of the half, but the snap was bobbled, then fumbled by the holder.

Matthews picked up the ball and bolted down the far sideline, beating a would-be tackler for a 58-yard touchdown -- the first of his career -- with 2.8 seconds to play before halftime.

"The ball popped out and I saw daylight, and I just went," said Mathews, who also recovered two other fumbles in the game.

All told, Howard was the beneficiary of six turnovers, five on fumbles, one on an interception.

Marc Benson missed the extra point, keeping the score at 6-0.

Middletown (10-1) put together several good drives in the half, but came up empty each time.

Led by Moore (17 carries, 161 yards) and bruising back D.J. Costello, the Knights drove to the Howard 30 on their opening drive before Matthews sacked quarterback Jake Earp for a loss of six, forcing a punt.

The Knights then put together an eight-play, 53-yard drive, but failed to cash in when Moore pushed a 32-yard field goal attempt wide right.

Middletown gained 133 yards in the half.

In the second half, Middletown drove to Howard's 32 twice, but was forced to punt the first time and fumbled the ball away the second.

The Knights also had another prime scoring chance go to waste early in the fourth quarter. After Moore broke a 47-yard run to Howard's 24, the Lions got the ball back when quarterback Earp ran into a teammate in the backfield and fumbled and Matthews again recovered.

"I didn't think we played very well," said Ambrose. "We had chances to score, and we didn't take advantage of them."

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