Two teams met at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex on Thursday night seeking an exit from the bleak tunnel that encapsulates a winless start to a season.
Southwest defensive back Fabian Robinson found some daylight in the third quarter against Howard, and 89 yards later the touchdown allowed the Patriots to emerge victorious, 13-7.
“I told my team we had to make a play,” Robinson said. “I just went and stripped the ball. Then, all I saw was light.”
Howard, trailing 7-0 at the time, put together an impressive drive on its first possession of the second half. The Huskies pushed the ball to Southwest’s 11-yard line before running back Rashaad Townes was stripped by Robinson, who raced nearly the length of the field for the touchdown and a 13-0 lead with 4:21 remaining in the third quarter.
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“That might as well have been a 14-point play,” Howard head football coach David Cape said. “But one play doesn’t determine a game.”
The pivotal play was merely one example of Southwest (1-2) taking advantage of the opportunities it was presented. Howard, meanwhile, outrushed and outpassed the Patriots but couldn’t seem to capitalize on any good fortune until it was too late and dropped to 0-2 this season.
“It was a story of missed opportunities,” Cape said. “We didn’t take advantage of ours and they took advantage of theirs.”
Aided by a crucial Howard penalty, Southwest opened the scoring midway through the second quarter. The Patriots lined up to punt, but during the exchange, Howard was flagged for roughing the snapper. The personal foul extended the Patriots’ drive and gave them the ball at the Huskies’ 38.
“We needed all the momentum we could get,” Southwest head football coach Carror Wright said.
Nine plays later, Leroy Murrphy plunged into the end zone from a yard out. After Antawn Clark’s extra point, Southwest led 7-0 with 7:36 remaining in the first half.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Huskies again threatened only to be denied. Howard defensive lineman Alexus Humphries stripped Southwest running back Jadarius Medows and pounced on the fumble at the Patriots’ 30. Yet, four plays yielded merely a yard and Southwest inherited the ball on downs.
The Huskies’ defense held and their next possession began at the Southwest 41 after an 18-yard punt return by Torey Bundrage. On the first play from scrimmage, however, quarterback Brannon Cape was intercepted by Domonique Clyde at the Patriots’ 15.
Of Howard’s 10 possessions, five ended in punts and two on downs, while two turnovers were drive killers before Cape scrambled for a 21-yard touchdown with 14 seconds remaining.
Robinson’s fumble return was the only bright spot for the Patriots in the second half. Howard’s defense held Southwest to just one first down in the final two quarters. Still, Wright was pleased to escape with the first victory of the season.
“If when you keep getting knocked down you keep getting back up, you’re going to eventually be a winner,” Wright said.