No. 8 Palm Beach Central 45, No. 5 Park Vista 7: Lloyd Howard, Broncos roll
Friday, October 05, 2012
by Jeff Greer
One play was all it took for Lloyd Howard to take over Friday night's game against District 10-8A rival Park Vista.
The diminutive speedster took the hand-off and tiptoed through a tiny crevice. Eighty yards later, he had scored the first of his three first-half touchdowns.
Howard and eighth-ranked Palm Beach Central never looked back, dancing all over No. 5 Park Vista in a resounding 45-7 district win.
Central (3-2) started slowly this fall, scoring just 12 points in back-to-back slugfest losses to Palm Beach Gardens and Royal Palm Beach, but the Broncos' offense broke through in a blowout win over cross-town rival Wellington. This week just continued that: They ran for 422 yards against a Vista team that had allowed an average of just 70 per game through its first five wins.
"We just caught them," Central coach Rod Harris said. "We're a young team, but we're starting to come together."
Howard did his best impression of himself on Central's second offensive play, side-stepping a tackler and shooting through a huge gap for another 80-yard touchdown run.
There were 230 rushing yards to his name by halftime, his last first-half run a 14-yard touchdown scamper, and he finished with 275 yards from 17 carries. To cap off his memorable night, he added a momentum-killing third-quarter interception that squashed what looked like Park Vista's second scoring drive.
"We came out live," Howard said. "My offensive line coach just told me to lower my head and follow my blockers. I did that."
Asked if it was a statement win for a Central team that has never won a district title, Howard didn't hesitate.
"It says a lot about our team," he said. "We knew if we beat Park Vista, we've got the keys to the ignition (in District 10-8A)."
Central does now, with the previously hot Cobras wondering what went so wrong, so quickly.
Vista (5-1) responded to Howard's first touchdown run with a sustained drive, but Alec Frear, one of the county's top kickers, just missed wide right on a 37-yard field-goal attempt. From there, Vista lost one fumble and an interception.
Dynamic dual-threat quarterback Qwad Martin struggled to find his moxie against a Central defense that fled the pocket and dominated the trenches. Martin ran only 10 times for 26 yards and completed 5 of 17 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.
As a team, the normally efficient-running Cobras took 27 carries for 116 yards, but they were playing catch-up all night.
"I think they played a great football game and we played a poor one," Vista coach Brian Dodds said. "It's going to be tougher for us now (in the district). We have to get better."