What started as a dream season for the Howe Bulldogs quickly turned into a nightmare as the team struggled through a losing streak that stretched to seven games, ending the 2012 football season with a 2-8 record.
An opening week loss to a strong Lindsay team was not a big shocker as the Knights always come prepared to play. Ryan Haines had a 12-of-27 passing night, but most were for short yardage, and there was no running game against the much bigger Lindsey defensive front as the Bulldogs fell, 49-13, in the season opener.
Things got better the following week as Howe put together a balanced attack in beating Paris Chisum, 40-14. Haines passed for 150 yards and Garette Griffin rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the 26-point win, to even the Bulldog record at 1-1.
Howe got on the plus side of .500 the following week as they posted a three-touchdown win over an old nemesis, the Whitewright Tigers.
Howe didn’t have to do much in the passing game as the ground attack would amass almost 430 yards in the 41-20 win. Griffin was responsible for 310 of those rushing yards, and although the Bulldogs gave up almost 350 yards to Texas signee Tyrone Swopes, he had little help as Howe pushed the season mark to 2-1.
A 21-point second quarter by the Gunter Tigers was the difference in Howe’s week three loss as Gunter posted a 42-27 win. Griffin carried the ball 10 times for 156 yards, with a 76-yard touchdown run thrown in. He also had a 54-yard scoring scamper, and a Haines to Calob Gann scoring pass of 20 yards was another highlight reel play.
Pottsboro was next on the dance card and the Cardinals took no prisoners in a 48-15 win. All of Howe’s points came in the third quarter after Pottsboro had taken a 35-0 lead. Jacob Grisolia returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown and a Haines pass to J.C.Watson produced the second score for the Bulldogs. Haines passed to Grisolia for the 2-point conversion following the Watson score, but that would be the extent of the offensive damage by the Bulldogs.
If you knew that Haines would pass for 284 yards, Griffin would rush for 100, and Grisolia would have 195 receiving yards against Farmersville, you would feel pretty good about the outcome. Unfortunately, it was a track meet and Howe came out on the short end of a 46-29 score as the losing streak reached three games.
The Bulldogs held a 15-0 lead over Caddo Mills in the next contest but, and that’s a recurring theme, that would be the extent of the offense as the Foxes rallied for 34 second-half points on their way to a 34-15 win.
The Commerce game quickly became a blow out as the banged up Bulldogs were forced into several lineup changes and none proved successful. The Tigers scored in every period to come away with a 46-0 win.
Going into the Highway Five rivalry game at Van Alstyne, somebody’s losing streak would be coming to an end. Howe had dropped five in a row following that win over Whitewright, and the Panthers were still looking for their first win of the season.
These teams have been battling each other on the gridiron for over 50 years and there have been some memorable moments in their clashes. The 2012 version would not be one of those moments, unless you were a Panther fan. Van Alstyne broke open a 7-7 game after the first quarter, scoring four times in the second period and adding another touchdown in the third to take a 42-7 lead. Howe was held to just 56 yards rushing in the district contest. Haines passed for 226 yards, 167 of those to Travis Jones, but most of the gains were in the middle of the field. The all-district duo did connect for a pair of scores, the first coming on a 31-yard strike in the opening period, the last, a nine-yard toss in the fourth.
With one more game on the schedule, it appeared that Howe had fired most of its bullets in the VA game. Sunnyvale came to Howe to close out the season and the Raiders had faint hopes for a playoff spot. That didn’t materialize, but the visitors did come away with a 40-12 win to put the lid on a disappointing season for the Bulldogs.