Working the visitors’ side of the field in a football game, one hears a lot of comments from the chain-crew, which is a group of hometown fans usually comprised of the athletes’ parents.
After Caddo Mills had driven 82-yards for a score in its first possession of the game with Howe, a member of the crew said, “Boy, we are hot tonight.”
Those temperatures fell a bit as Howe reeled off four consecutive scoring drives on the way to a 56-27 win over the Foxes in the final non-district game of the season for the Bulldogs.
Howe (4-1) amassed 578 yard rushing, the second highest total in school history, with the first being the Bulldogs rushed for 589 yards in 2014 against Tom Bean.
Down 0-7, it took just over a minute to get back in the contest.
Senior runningback Jaden Matthews reeled off a 41-yard run to open Howe’s first possession, and after senior Tyler Grisham picked up six yards, Matthews took it to the house from 18 yards out. Junior Brice Honaker booted the first of his six extra-point kicks, and Howe was off to the races.
After a three-and-out on Caddo Mills’ next possession, Howe overcame a pair of penalties on a 78-yard drive to the Foxes end zone. Senior quarterback Brandon Wall made a run for 15 yards that started the march, and eight plays later sophomore Mason Riggs got to the corner and scored from 16 yards out to give the Bulldogs a lead they never gave back.
Caddo Mills turnovers proved costly on Howe’s next two touchdowns as sophomore Cooper Akins and junior Ty Harvey each had interceptions that ignited Bulldog drives.
Matthews had runs of 14 and 13 yards after Akins’ pick, and Grisham scored from five yards out to give the Dogs’ a 21-7 lead.
One play after Harvey’s interception, Matthews bulled through a couple of players on his way to his second touchdown of the game with a 66-yard scoring run that gave Howe a 28-7 lead.
Caddo Mills put together a pair of touchdown drives to close the gap to just eight at the half.
“I’m really proud of the way our defense played in the second half,” Howe Coach Zack Hudson said. “ We had our heads down a little at the end of the half, but came out and took control over a really good football team.”
Senior Tanner Hartsfield, a warrior on both sides of the ball on this night, recovered a Caddo Mills fumble near midfield and the Bulldogs capitalized on that miscue.
Two runs by Matthews moved the ball to the Caddo Mills 19-yard line, and three plays later Grisham scored from four yards out to bump the Bulldog lead to 35-20.
Caddo Mills came back to score what would be its finally tally of the night, aided by a pair of Howe penalties.
The Bulldogs didn’t need any penalty help to cancel that score as Riggs turned the corner on Howe’s first scrimmage play following the Caddo score and raced 88 yards for another Howe touchdown.
The Howe defense, getting outstanding play from senior Mike Helpenstell, senior J.P. Queen, sophomore Cameron Blesi and junior Andrew Griffin, completely dominated the fourth quarter.
Howe, on its way to that impressive rushing total, got touchdown runs from Wall for 30 yards and Riggs scored his third from five yards out to cap a 56-27 win.
The offensive line of junior Chase Harvey, senior Tim Helpenstell, junior Connor Jackson, junior Clay Marshall, senior Matt Griffin and Hartsfield were blowing down Caddo Mills defenders all night.
After a well-deserved off week, Howe will face a big test on Oct. 7 as the 4-1 Pottsboro Cardinals pay a visit to Bulldog Stadium.