METRO ATHLETIC CONFERENCE Justice, Smith give Howland punch
James Justice scored three TDs and got great blocking from Maurice Smith as Howland beat Salem.
By BOB ROTH
HOWLAND -- James Justice ran for 113 yards on 10 carries and scored three touchdowns on runs of 21, 4 and 62 yards, as the Howland High football team defeated Salem 22-7 Friday at Richard Lombardo Field.
Howland's Maurice Smith carried the ball 23 times, picking up 96 yards, but it was his blocking that had the admiration of coach Dick Angle and Justice.
"This was a good win coming off a loss," said Angle. "Give Salem credit, they were in the game in the late going and Doug Phillips has done a great job there with a team that is really coming. After the Canfield game, we wanted to go back to being us and we did as Smith and Justice gave us a good one-two punch, with great blocking by Smith."
Howland in command
The first half belonged to the Tigers (5-1, 1-1 Metro Athletic Conference) as they used an 11-play, 71-yard drive to score with Justice going in from 21 yards out at the 4:01 mark of the first quarter.
The Tigers capitalized on a Salem error when linebacker Mark Faller intercepted Salem quarterback Landon Heath's pass, and returned it 33 yards to the Salem 13-yard line.
Three plays later, Justice went in from the 4-yard line.
"I was watching for a slant and turned with their receiver, with the ball being right there," Faller said.
A 29-yard field goal by Howland's Jon Airhart as the first half ended was all the scoring in the half for a 15-0 Howland lead.
Behind Heath, Salem (2-4, 0-2) woke up in the second half. He completed three passes for 40 yards as he engineered an 11-play, 78-yard drive that ended when tailback Marcus Jones scored on a 6-yard run with 4:59 left in the third quarter.
Heath was intercepted again at the Howland 35 inside the seven-minute mark of the final period by the Tigers' Travis Jackson. Two plays later, Justice drove a nail in the Salem coffin with a 62-yard dash for a Tiger score.
"The play was blast right and I had a great block from Maurice Smith and slipped off a tackle and was gone," said Justice. "The guys up front really stepped it up tonight."
With Smith and Justice running for 206 of their team's 310 yards, the ground belonged to the Tigers, but the air belonged to Salem with Heath throwing for 142 yards on 11 for 30 attempts.
"Turnovers hurt us, but we played better defense than the score indicates," Salem coach Doug Phillips said. "Usually the first half has been our half, but tonight we came out the second half and played [well]."