SMITHS STATION, Ala. -- Smiths Station doesn't plan on losing its unblemished record any time soon.
Smiths Station proved that point Friday night in its 28-9 victory over Beauregard. The Panthers (5-0) gave up only 71 yards (45 passing, 26 rushing) in the first half. It was even better in the final two quarters, as the Hornets could tally just 39 yards of total offense.
Smiths Station had no trouble moving the ball, finishing with 358 yards of total offense. It was notable for the near-perfect balance achieved: The Panthers racked up 185 yards on the ground and 173 through the air. The latter total is what pleased Smiths Station head coach Mark Rose. "If we couldn't have thrown the ball, we wouldn't have won the game, because running was hard in there," he said. "That's a credit to Beauregard."
After committing only one turnover in its first four games, Smiths Station committed three turnovers Friday night. Two of them came on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. On the first, junior Nigel Lawrence muffed a punt, which the Hornets (3-2) jumped on at the Panthers' 39-yard line. Six plays later, the Hornets scored their only touchdown of the night on a 15-yard pass play from Walker Meadows to his receiver, sophomore Timothy Penn. Beauregard missed the ensuing extra point, but it still into Smiths Station's lead at 14-6.
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The Panthers didn't make it any easier on themselves as they gave the ball away once more on their next drive. A mishandled snap led to another fumble recovery by Beauregard. Smiths Station had one more fumble, this one coming in the third quarter. Though the trio of miscues didn't come back to haunt them in this game, Rose was still irritated with his team's sloppiness. "We just didn't take care of the ball," he said. "On the one (fumble), the reverse play out of the shotgun, which is something we've practiced, but we're probably not good enough at yet, and that's on me. And (on the muffed punt), Nigel probably should have just fair caught the ball so he didn't have to worry about it."
But with Smiths Station's plethora of options in the backfield, the thought of losing never had to cross its mind. In the first half, the Panthers scored on the same play twice: End-arounds to Johnny Woods from seven yards and five yards, respectively. Smiths Station other touchdown in before halftime came from junior fullback Amonte Caban, who burst through the middle of Beauregard's defense from five yards out. Those touchdowns allowed the Panthers to take a 21-9 lead into the locker room
The Panthers then pounded away at the visitors' defense in the second half. Though it only gained 71 yards in the final 24 minutes, it was more than enough to eat away at the clock. And when it needed a big play, it turned to its star: Senior running back DeVante Marshall. Facing fourth-and-inches from Beauregard's 16-yard line, Smiths Station elected to leave kicker Harrison Jones on the sideline. Instead, they handed the ball off to Marshall. The senior took the inside handoff and darted to the left. With the Hornets diverting all of their players for an inside play, Marshall saw nothing but daylight. Sixteen yards later, he was standing in the end zone to put the finishing touches on Smiths Station's victory.
While Rose couldn't be more pleased to have a player like Marshall, he also praised another member of the Panthers' backfield. "That late drive where we killed the clock, J.J. (Dancy) made some outstanding runs as well," Rose said. "He runs it hard and has great speed, so it's a nice combination."
Friday at Panther StadiumBeauregard 0 9 0 0--9
Smiths Station 7 14 0 7--28First Quarter
SSHS- Johnny Woods 7 run (Harrison Jones kick), 2:03
SSHS- Amonte Caban 5 run (Jones kick), 7:37
BHS- Timothy Senn 15 pass from Walker Meadows, (Jason Clark kick no good), 4:35
BHS- Clark 22 kick, 1:55
SSHS- Woods 5 run (Jones kick), 30.3
SSHS- DeVante Marshall 16 run (Jones kick), 8:24
Records: Beauregard 4-1, Smiths Station 5-0. Next: Smiths Station, Thursday at R.E. Lee, 8 p.m.