POTTSBORO — A high scoring first half was all the still undefeated Pottsboro Cardinals produced and needed in their 42-3 victory over the Howe Bulldogs in District 5-3A (I) action.

The Cardinals (7-0, 3-0) started the game off with a scoring drive of 64 yards in nine plays. Pottsboro found the end zone on the back of a 18-yard run by quarterback Braden Plyler, who broke tackles and ankles to give the Cards an early 7-0 lead.

Howe (2-5, 1-2) saw misfortune immediately with a fumble on the kick return that was recovered by the Cardinals to give Pottsboro excellent field position for their next scoring drive.

Pottsboro marched 39 yards and found the end zone on an 11-yard Cy Shope run, giving the Cards a 14-0 lead five minutes into the game.

Shope finished with 12 carries for 125 yards while Plyler had six carries for 74 yards.

The Bulldogs picked up their first and only points after a 43-yard drive that ended in a 37 yard field goal by Kevin Flores. Howe quarterback Austin Haley put his team in field goal range with a 39-yard pass connection to Kolby Windon.

Pottsboro was firmly in the driver’s seat with a touchdown in the first minute of the second quarter. Plyler set the Cards up with a 29-yard run and Shope finished the job with a six-yard TD run.

Another nine-play drive provided the Cardinals’ next touchdown, the drive having to be completed without Plyler, who was ejected from the game due to unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

After a 31-yard run by Shope put the Cardinals in the red zone, Pottsboro fumbled the ball on the next play and after some struggle for possession, Zach Talley scooped up the ball and ran it 13 yards for the touchdown and a 28-3 advantage with 5:05 left in the half.

Pottsboro went on to score twice more in the second quarter. The first of those touchdowns came on a 21-yard Cooper Townsley run with just over a minute left on the clock and the next was on a 35-yard pass from Shope to Titus Lyons, who had three catches for 61 yards, to close out all the scoring by half-time.

Brandon Williams totaled 10 carries for 46 yards and Jalen Thornton added seven catches for 93 yards to pace Howe, which had 182 yards but gained only 23 yards on 22 carries, as Pottsboro put forth a season-best effort in points allowed.

In a strange twist, the game turned into a defensive stalemate for the entirety of the second half. A flurry of fumbles, punts, penalties, missed field goals and scoring opportunities were delivered by both teams until the final seconds ran off the clock.

“I though our guys played well,” Cardinals head coach Matt Poe said. “I thought our defensive front played extremely well… I think we are growing as a unit every week, upfront on defense and offense. Our guys are getting a little bit better every week and that’s always a positive.”

Pottsboro will travel to Bonham this week and can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a home victory by Howe against Lone Oak.