Took a fuel filter off at 12,150 miles. Sectioned it and tore the cartridge apart. Now I see how it works.
Fuel dumps on the ring at the top. Then it goes down through the 24 holes (12 to a side) between the case and the filter material. Look at the pictures and you will see there is very little clearance for the fuel to fall outside the cartridge material Where it falls through the holes is where those dirty bands run top-to-bottom on both sides of the filter material. That picture did not load on this posting but is a common sight on other filters I see sectioned.That must be from fuel running down the outside of the material under the side holes.
Then the fuel is pulled through the material and up through the center hole to the engine. I just never figured it out but see now that if the filter can were crushed while installing, it might restrict the intake flow down the sides below the small top holes.
As you can see, this filter is quite dirty. Draw your own conclusions as to when it might have plugged if I had left it on and how much dirt it trapped from the fuel. There was also some orange material across the bottom of the housing. It turned to a "nothing powder" when I squeezed. Don't know if it was some kind of rust.