MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Jamal Howard was in the shadow of his own uprights when Central-Phenix City took the field with less than six minutes to go in the first half.
The Devils were up by a touchdown and had just botched a punt return deep in their own territory but Howard made sure it didn't matter -- connecting with Traveon Samuel for a 90-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the series.
It was the start of a scoring avalanche in the second quarter for Central-Phenix City which blew out Robert E. Lee, 54-28, in Class 6A football Friday night at Cramton Bowl.
"The safety came down," said Howard, who had a hand in three of Central's five touchdowns in a 34-0 second quarter. "When I saw Tre get out of his cut, I just laid it up for him to make a catch. I knew I was going to him."
Howard was 8-for-10 for 218 yards with three touchdowns and added three carries for 34 yards and a touchdown for Central-Phenix City (3-1).
Lee (1-3) looked impressive and scored on an eight-play 77-yard opening drive of the game capped off by Anthony Hooks Jr.'s 12-yard touchdown run but it took Central just 34 seconds to go 57 yards and tie the game at 7.
"At the beginning right there we're on defense and Lee went right down the field and scored and I'm going to tell you, I started thinking about last week," Central-Phenix City coach Woodrow Lowe said, referring to the Devils' loss to 37-7 loss to Opelika last week.
"We came out and responded a different way from then on out."
The Devils took the lead 14-7 on a 16-yard touchdown run by Howard which capped an eight-play 60-yard drive with 9:29 to go in the second quarter.
After Howard and Samuel made their first touchdown connection, Central held Lee to a three-and-out and scored just three plays later on a 54-yard touchdown run by Ryan Humphrey.
The Devils defense got in on the action when Walter Pritchett returned a Lee fumble 60 yards for a score to make it 34-7 with 2:19 to go in the first half and the rout was on.
Howard found Timothy Sweeting in the closing minute of the first half to make it 41-7 at halftime and connected with Samuel, who made five catches for 137 yards and two TDs, on the opening drive of the second half.
Howard felt little pressure from the Lee defense thanks in part to the offensive line play of South Florida-commit Cameron Fraser.