With State Semi Loss
to Howard's 'D', Big Plays
Publisher, Sussex County Online
Photos (from top): Laurel's defense drops Howard's Ed Baise for a loss, Laurel fullback Chris Horsey on a 38-yard run, and Laurel receiver Anton Ridley blocks Howard defensive back Matt Carre.
LAUREL -- Laurel High School head football coach Ed Manlove got more indigestion this week from watching film of Howard's football team than Thanksgiving dinner.
And with good reason.
The Bulldogs' Cinderella season ended with a 14-6 loss in the Division II state tournament semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2002, when they couldn't find an antidote to visiting Howard's stingy defense and big-play offense.
The defeat gave second-seeded Laurel an unexpected 9-2 record but ended visions of a Division II state championship game next weekend with rival Delmar.
Instead, Howard, a Cinderella team in its own right in its first state tournament ever, takes a 10-1 record and the third seed into the state title game with two-time defending state champion Delmar at the University of Delaware's Tubby Raymond Stadium.
The top-seeded, unbeaten Wildcats of Delmar and the Wildcats of Howard will tee it up on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. William Penn and St. Mark's will square off for the Division I state championship on Friday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. at Raymond Stadium.
Earlier in the week, Manlove struggled with "finding a crack" in Howard's defense, a defense that allowed only 5.5 points a game this season.
And except for a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Hartstein to end Anton Ridley, the Bulldog offense that averaged 29.7 points a game and scored 40 points or more four times this season found nothing but frustration in recording its second lowest point total of the year.
By night's end, Laurel had been intercepted three times, coughed up two fumbles, been sacked twice, and been dropped for losses nine times.
"I give Howard all the credit," said Manlove. "They took it to us pretty much from beginning to end. It was one of those things where you think you have it figured out and you don't. They did a great job of shutting us down."
Despite their offensive woes, the Bulldogs still had a chance to send the game into overtime after Hartstein and Ridley connected on the 26-yard scoring pass with 6:15 left in the game.
First, the Bulldogs got a break when return man Jeff Downes fumbled away a punt only to have Howard's recovery wiped out by an illegal procedure penalty.
Laurel took the ball at that point and moved into Howard territory, where running back Chris Horsey took a screen pass from Hartstein and ran 17 yards before fumbling the ball, which was recovered by Bulldog lineman Zach Slatcher at the Howard 29 with 2:10 left.
The Bulldogs seemed certain to move deeper into Howard territory on the next play, but a pass from Hartstein bounced off slot back Kyle Thompson and into the arms of Howard linebacker Layton Johnson to end that threat with 1:53 to go.
Howard didn't do much with the ball, but punter Tom Konrad got the Wildcats out of trouble with a 57-yard punt on fourth down that died at Laurel's 19 with only 44.5 seconds to play.
Hartstein was then hit by linebacker Da'Rius Lemon as he dropped back to pass and the resulting fumble was covered by linebacker Jeremy Wilmore at Laurel's 1. Howard took a knee on the game's final play to advance to the finals.
Laurel had fallen behind 14-0 in the third period when Howard, as it has all season, used two big plays to score its touchdowns.
The Wildcats had only 7 first downs the entire game despite totalling 309 yards of offense, but 138 of those yards came on the third quarter touchdowns of 55 yards to halfback Kareeme Barnes on a screen pass from quarterback Mike Schmidt and 83 yards on a bomb from Schmidt to wide receiver Matt Carre.
Barnes' TD made it 6-0 with 8:58 left in the third quarter and Carre's TD and a two-point conversion run by Barnes made it 14-0 with 2:52 to go in the period.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, were having no luck offensively, and didn't record their initial first down of the second half until Hartstein scrambled for 8 yards and a first down with 7:40 left in the fourth quarter.
While the Bulldogs managed only 197 yards of total offense, the defense kept them in the game, especially in the first half, when they came up with two big defensive stands in the red zone.
On the first threat, Howard moved to Laurel's 11 with a 22-yard pass from Schmidt to wide receiver Stan Banks on fourth-and-11. But on third-and-10, Bulldog lineman Patrick Belle smacked Barnes for a 5-yard loss and defensive back Davey Allison intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it to the Laurel 1 to end that opportunity.
The Bulldogs managed to dig the ball out of their own end with a 38-yard run by Horsey and an 8-yard run by Hartstein, but Carre picked off a Hartstein pass and returned it to the Laurel 24 with 1:40 remaining in the half.
Howard picked up a first down to reach Laurel's 13 with 29.0 seconds left in the half, but an illegal procedure penalty moved the ball back to the 18 and a pass by Schmidt missed its mark on fourth down to quell that threat and leave the teams tied 0-0 at halftime.
8:58 -- LAUREL (6-6)
2:52 -- LAUREL (6-6)
6:15 -- LAUREL (6-6)
Total Offense -- Howard 55-309, Laurel 49-197.
First Downs -- Howard 7, Laurel 7.
Rushing -- Howard 32-77, Laurel 26-92.
Passing -- Howard 8-23-2, 232, Laurel 10-23-3, 105.
Fumbles/Lost -- Howard 1/1, Laurel 3/3.
Penalties/Yards -- Howard 12-60, Laurel 2-10.
Howard -- Kareeme Barnes 15-48, Mike Schmidt 9-7, Ed Baise 6-21, Jerome Wilmore 2-1.
Laurel -- Chris Horsey 10-70, DeVry Hill 13-19, Andy Hartstein 3-3.
Howard -- Mike Schmidt 7-22-2, 190; Kareeme Barnes 1-1-0, 42.
Laurel -- Andy Hartstein 10-23-3, 105.
Howard -- Matt Carre 5-144, Kareeme Barnes 1-55, Tom Konrad 1-11, Stan Banks 1-22.
Laurel -- Anton Ridley 5-56, Jeff Downes 2-5, Chris Horsey 2-24, Kyle Thompson 1-20.
Laurel head coach Ed Manlove on Howard's defense:
"I give Howard all the credit. They took it to us pretty much from beginning to end. It was one of those things where you think you have it figured out and you don't. They did a great job of shutting us down. We couldn't get an outside game, which we've relied on a lot this year, and our passing game kind of broke down in spots. We got it going at the end of the game, but they did a great job with a couple of key interceptions at the end of the game."
Manlove on his team's accomplishments this year:
"That's the first thing I told the kids (after the loss) is I'm proud of what we've done and what we've accomplished. We weren't expected to do anything, so you know, you look back on that and you won nine games and you made it to the state tournament, and only four teams get to do that, so it's a big accomplishment and I'm very proud of them. We lost the game, but everything considered, it's a great town and a great community and I have a lot of support, and the kids played hard."
Manlove on the program's future after several down years:
"I told the seniors that unfortunately, they get to go (graduate0 for us, but I told them they're always going to be remembered because we want to create a monster here in Laurel, something that will be strong for years to come, and they're going to be the ones that started it."
Manlove on Howard's big plays for touchdowns:
"It's nothing we didn't know they were going to run. They just seemed to get behind us and outran our coverage and you've got to give them credit for that. We didn't get a lot of pressure, not as much as we could have or should have, and they just beat us to the punch with big plays."
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