Howland captures AAC Red crown
CANFIELD — Howland has lived, for the most part, by the big play on offense in bouncing back from an 0-2 start to the season.
On Friday night, the Tigers won their seventh straight game and wrapped up the All-American Conference Red Tier title by grinding out a 21-0 victory over Canfield.
Tyriq Ellis ran for 134 yards on 30 carries and Jackson Deemer added 66 yards on nine attempts as the Tigers (7-2, 4-0 Red Tier) rolled behind an excellent performance by the offensive line.
“Our guys are getting smart. We’re taking what the defense is giving us and we’re holding onto the football, that’s probably the biggest thing. We’re taking care of the football and not turning it over,” Howland coach Dominic Menendez said.
“Hats off to our guys, the defense played great, pitching a shutout. We’re doing good things and we’ve got to keep it going.”
The defense indeed was solid, as Canfield (6-3, 2-1) never really threatened. A key juncture for the Tigers occurred midway through the final quarter. Ahead 14-0, Howland was driving for the clinching touchdown.
On third-and-goal at the Canfield 1, Deemer’s fumble was recovered by the Cardinals, but the fullback was ruled down before he lost the ball. On the next play, Victor Williams, playing at quarterback, stuck the ball out as he jumped on a quarterback sneak. The ball was knocked out of his hands and Canfield recovered, but one of the officials had signalled touchdown.
After a discussion among the officials the play was ruled a fumble, recovered by Canfield. Two plays later, from the 1, the Cardinals executed a flea-flicker play and Jake Cummings hit Colin Hritz for 53 yards. With yardage from a roughing the passer penalty added on, Canfield suddenly had the ball at the Howland 35 with a chance to get back in the game.
A penalty and solid Howland defense put the Cardinals in a passing situation and Jacob Williams intercepted to end the Canfield threat.
The Tigers went on to get that clinching touchdown after Deemer busted off a 34-yard run down to the 6 and then scored two plays later from the 1.
Ellis had both of Howland’s first-half touchdowns, the first on a 27-yard run midway through the first quarter, and the other on a 2-yard run early in the second. Both scoring opportunities were the result of the Tigers having a short field due to some fine punting by Jon Elliott.
The Tigers stand fifth in Division III, Region 9, according to the web site www.joeeitel.com, which indicates that Howland controls its own destiny. With 8-1 Warren G. Harding up next, it is obvious the Tigers will make the playoffs with a victory.
“We talked this week about winning, and if we win this one we’ve got a good shot of being in and if we win week 10 we’ve got a good shot at being at home,” Menendez said. “We’ll try to handle our business and get it done.
“We talked about winning this one because it was the next one. Now it’s week 10 and we can worry about Harding now.”
Though playoff positioning is on the mind of most fans, the AAC Red Tier title plays a part in that.
“After we started 0-2 we talked about the team that wins the conference usually makes it to the posteason, so it helped in that way,” Menendez said.
Since that 0-2 start, Howland has been in playoff mode, knowing it probably had to win out to make the playoffs.
“These guys are hungry, they haven’t been to the postseason in three years,” Menendez said. “They come to work every day and they’re getting it done.”