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Howard chokes Paint Branch

HOWARD - Paint Branch couldn’t find their rhythm on offense and fell 39-7 to the Howard Lions in the 4A North regional final.

Paint Branch quarterback Danon Davis-Cray was under constant pressure from the Howard defensive line and the Panther run game couldn’t find any holes.

Davis-Cray was sacked seven times and forced to throw the ball away under pressure several more times. And the Panthers only rushed for 29 yards on 15 carries.

On defense, the Panthers couldn’t stop the Howard run game, giving up three rushing touchdowns, two of more than forty yards.

It seemed like things were going to go Paint Branch’s way at the beginning of the game. They recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff and a 19-yard pass to Kevin Ferreira had the Panthers within striking distance. But Darryl Hill fumbled on the next play and Howard took over at their own 39.

The Lions ended up driving 61 yards on 13 plays before quarterback Kevin Sheahin threw an 11-yard touchdown pass. The drive took over six-and-a-half minutes.

The Panthers punted twice and turned the ball over on downs on their other three drives of the first half while the Lions continued to control the ball and score on explosive plays.

Running back Najee Savage scored on a 52 yard run but the Lions’ next drive was more astonishing. On the 11th play of the drive, Sheahin found wide receiver Dylan Perez with a great throw over the Paint Branch defenders to complete a 4th and 17 and score. The 25-yard touchdown gave the Lions a 20-0 lead that they carried into halftime.

In the second half, Paint Branch turnovers let the Lions cushion their lead. Davis-Cray was intercepted on the second play of the half and four plays later, Savage scored from five yards out.

After the teams traded punts, Howard linebacker Shane Kieta scooped up a bad Paint Branch snap and ran 45 yards for a touchdown, putting the Lions up 33-0.

The Panthers followed that up with their first touchdown drive of the game. Davis-Cray found wide receiver Fanta Fanta for a 23-yard touchdown pass.

But it was too late for the Panthers. The Lions defense ramped up their pressure and Paint Branch couldn’t score again. A late touchdown gave them a 39-7 lead.

The Lions head to the state semifinals for the first time since 1999.

 

1Q

2Q

3Q

4Q

Final

Paint Branch

0

0

7

0

7

Howard

7

13

13

6

39

Paint Branch stats:

Rushing: Hill 9-13; Davis-Cray 6-16

Passing: Davis-Cray 25-40 280 yards, 1 TD 2 ints

Receiving: Guerrero 7-77; Fanta 5-68 TD; Stangos 5-57; Ferreira 3-44; Davis 2-8; Hill 1-9

By Tim Curtis

Sentinel Sports

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