With last night’s 34-0 victory over Howard, River Hill’s football team proved that the rumors of its demise may have been immature, if not greatly exaggerated.
A week after their 10-0 loss to Atholton, ending a 48-game winning streak against Howard County league opponents (including postseason), the Hawks made a strong statement Friday. At 5-1 overall and in Howard play, River Hill remained in a tie for first with Wilde Lake and Hammond.
“Last week was a tough week,” said River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen. “We lost, didn’t play well and I think that served as a wake-up call. We had a real good practice week, went back to the basics, came out and played very well tonight.”
Senior halfback John McMichael caught two first half touchdown passes, the first of which, a 19-yarder from senior running back Jordan Griffin, punctuated the Hawks’ game-opening, 65-yard drive. With 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, McMichael’s 25-yard scoring grab gave the Hawks a 14-0 cushion.
Senior quarterback Harry McLaughlin threw for two scores in only his second game back from a torn abdominal muscle that forced him to miss the season’s first four games.
“Howard is a very good, playoff caliber team,” said Van Deusen. “We were a little upset and frustrated with how Atholton was able to move the ball last week, so to shut out a team like Howard, who has a couple of good running backs, a good quarterback and a big tight end as a target, we did an outstanding job.”
The balanced River Hill offensive attack kept the Lions defense on their heels throughout the game. Howard (4-2, 4-2 Howard) fought back valiantly early in the second half, marching the ball from its 23 to inside the Hawks 30-yard. But River Hill senior captain Brent Kluge recovered a fumble caused by a sack on quarterback Ryan Wade.
The Hawks immediately ran the ball three times for 55 yards in less than a minute, with junior Aaron Wells’ four-yard touchdown run extending the lead 21-0.
After senior cornerback Kevin Sanders intercepted an overthrown Wade pass and returned it 39 yards, McLaughlin found senior receiver Raamah Vaughn for a 16-yard touchdown strike.
River Hill’s final score, a one-yard plunge by Kluge in the final quarter, was set up by a 32-yard fingertip catch by senior receiver Nick Clay.
“The takeaways were huge for us this week,” said Van Deusen. “Our quarterback [McLaughlin] had a great game today, and he’s just getting into it after missing those first few games with his injury. He threw the ball well, spread it around to different receivers and we had four running backs that did a good job of maintaining that balance that we’re looking for.
We got good play up front on both sides of the ball, our linebackers played well and I’m very pleased with our effort in putting some points on the board and getting a shutout. ”
River Hill hosts Wilde Lake Friday evening in Clarksville with at least a share of first place on the line. Howard looks to rebound at Glenelg on Saturday.
|No. 10 River Hill 34, Howard 0|
|RH-McMichael 19 pass from Griffin (Gershenson kick)|
|RH-McMichael 25 pass from McLaughlin (Gershenson kick)|
|RH-Wells 4 run (Gershenson kick)|
|RH-Vaughn 16 pass from McLaughlin (kick failed)|
|RH-Kluge 1 run (Gershenson kick)|