Francis Howell senior running back Sutton Smith does have one of the best offensive lines in the St. Louis area. He is always quick to credit them for his success but Smith is anything but a “run of the mill back”. For the fifth straight week, Smith did his thing on the ground. This time he ran wild on the Fort Zumwalt West defense and the Howell defense did its part as the host Vikings held on for a 21-13 Gateway South conference victory Friday night.
Howell (5-0, 2-0 in the Gateway South) had to fight off mistakes and a hard-nosed Zumwalt West club, but it was the ground game led by Smith, who rushed for a dizzying 338 yards on 48 carries and all three Howell touchdowns that seemed to be the difference on this particular night.
“75-80 percent of it (getting yards) is the linemen just because they get the holes open and I honestly couldn’t do it without them,: Smith said. “Training in the off-season with Arlen Harris and Elite football in the offseason really helped me see the field more and better and it just worked out well for me in the offseason and us as a team as a whole we train hard all together.”
Smith got thew Vikings going midway through the first quarter when he broke off-tackle and raced 68 yards for a touchdown to put Howell up 7-0 with 5:49 left in the first quarter.
“Our offense is 11 guys working together,” Francis Howell coach Bryan Koch said. “It’s 11 guys doing 11 different jobs and Sutton runs the ball hard.”
Just before the half, Howell drove 54 yards for another score as Smith capped the march with an 11-yard touchdown run off of left end to make it 14-0 with 2:49 left before the break.
Smith added his third and final touchdown of the night on a 40-yard scoring run with 9:46 left in third quarter for a 21-0 cushion.
Zumwalt West (2-3, 1-1 in the Gateway South) finally got some traction with their offense late in the third quarter as quarterback Chase Brown hit Rayvion Wade with an 11-yard touchdown strike. The point after failed and the Jaguars were down 21-6 with 1:20 left in the quarter.
Then Brown made a big play with his legs in the fourth quarter to pull Zumwalt West close again. The senior signal-caller broke free on a keeper run near midfield on second down and raced 55 yards to pay dirt and the Howell lead was down to 21-13 with just 7:11 left.
Brown rushed for 85 yards but only completed 19 of 41 passes for 166 yards and was intercepted four times as the Vikings defense made life rough for him. Howell’s defense forced five Zumwalt West turnovers on the evening.
“Our defense was lights out tonight,” Koch said. “Those kids were on the field a lot and they played as hard as they possibly could. It was impressive to see how much heart our defense has.”
After the Vikings ran the clock below one minute and had a 32-yard field goal try blocked, Zumwalt West got the ball back at its 21 with 35 seconds left.
The Jaguars managed to drive just past midfield, but the Howell defense held as a Hail Mary pass was not converted.
“We needed a game like this,” Koch said.”We told the kids that it’s not always going to be a running clock in the second half and you might have to fight through all four quarters and it might come down to the very last second which tonight it did.”
NOTES: In other games involving area teams Friday night, Eureka routed Parkway South 45-0, CBC blanked Chaminade 51-0, Kennedy stopped Lutheran St, Charles 38-26, Lafayette beat Lindbergh 21-17, Marquette beat Mehlville 31-14, Parkway Central defeated Parkway West 22-6, Francis Howell North knocked off Francis Howell Central 51-34, Fort Zumwalt South blasted Washington 56-7, Fort Zumwalt North edged Fort Zumwalt East 28-27, and St. Dominic lost to St. Mary’s 39-27.