SMITHS STATION, Ala. -- Smiths Station's game looked like a near-carbon copy of its game last week -- in all but one respect, at least.
Just as they did in Week 1, the Panthers jumped out to a sizable lead in the first half. Unlike last Friday, they didn't have to hold off a furious rally by their opponent.
Smiths Station's game was drama-free Friday, as it eased past overmatched Sidney Lanier High School 49-8.
"I thought it was a good performance for us tonight," Panthers coach Mark Rose said. "The No. 1 thing is that we protected the football. That's eight straight quarters for us without a turnover."
The same couldn't be said for the Poets, who gave the ball away twice. Both times, Smiths Station senior linebacker Byron Ford was in the middle of the action, as he picked off a pair of passes from Lanier signal-caller Deandre Bibb.
"He had a great game," Rose said of Ford. "We're trying to find some guys to rest Johnny Woods and some other guys, and (Ford) really stepped up big. We're expecting a lot (more) from him."
It took the Panthers (2-0, 1-0) one drive to get going, as they went three-and-out on their opening possession. From there, it was utter dominance over their visitors from Montgomery.
Smiths Station got on the board at the 5:28 mark of the opening period, as J.J. Dancy took it in from the 4-yard line. The senior running back was just getting started.
He scored twice more -- on runs of eight yards and four yards, respectively -- to help the Panthers build a 28-0 halftime lead.
Smiths Station's other first half score also came on the ground, with fullback Amonte Caban bowling into the end zone from the 1-yard line with 11:15 to go in the second quarter. Caban's touchdown came two plays after an interception by Ford, who stepped in front of a pass from Bibb, and returned it 11 yards to the Poets' 8-yard line.
The Poets (0-2, 0-1) found it tough sledding against the Panthers' defense.
Smiths Station gave up just 105 total yards offensively (56 rushing, 49 passing) -- compared to the 242 its own offense compiled -- but it finally capitulated on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.
Bibb found receiver Javorous Lacy in the middle of the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 10-yard line to prevent a shutout.
The Panthers would have the last word, though, scoring on a quick, two-play drive following a failed onside kick attempt from the Poets. Sophomore running back Khalil Johnson took a handoff up the middle and then darted out to the right sideline. No defender could catch him, scoring on a 42-yard touchdown with 9:04 remaining to put the finishing touches on Smiths Station's victory.
Smiths Station will have to continue to play at a high level next week, as it welcomes Auburn High School to Panthers Stadium.
Rose was well-aware of the challenge that lies ahead.
"It's the same keys as always," he said. "We know we can't turn the ball over. They've got an outstanding football team, as usual, and we're looking forward to it."
Friday at Panther Stadium
Lanier 0 0 0 8--8
Smiths Station 7 21 14 7--49
SSHS- J.J. Dancy 4 run (Harrison Jones kick), 5:28
SSHS- Amonte Caban 1 run (Jones kick), 11:15
SSHS- Dancy 8 run (Jones kick), 9:34
SSHS- Dancy 4 run (Jones kick), 3:02
SSHS- LeDarion Heath 14 pass from Jerrell Gilmore (Jones kick), 10:15
SSHS- Devonte Marshall 10 run (Jones kick), 5:41
LHS- Javorous Lacy 10 pass from Deandre Bibb (Deiontre Surls from Bibb, two-point conversion), 9:56
SSHS- Khalil Johnson (Jones kick), 9:04
Records: Lanier 0-2, 0-1 Class 6A Region 3, Smiths Station 2-0, 1-0. Next: Smiths Station, home vs. Auburn, Friday, 8 p.m.