By Melissa Meador/NEMS Daily Journal
HATLEY – Smithville put together another big second half to take down another county rival.
Junior quarterback Drew Lann used his legs to find the end zone three times in the second half on Friday night to give the Seminoles a 44-6 win over Hatley after only leading 8-6 at halftime.
For the first time in the county rivalry, a trophy was awarded to the winner in a postgame ceremony.
“The first half we didn’t play football, and we didn’t take advantage of opportunities,” Smithville head coach Bubba Tacker said. “I told them that’s what we talk about every day, taking advantage of opportunities in life and how important that is.”
The Tigers got on the board first after Smithville’s long first drive ended in a Lann fumble that Austin Howell returned 69 yards for a touchdown with six minutes left in the first quarter.
Smithville (2-0) stormed back to take the lead on its third possession of the game. Lann’s 9-yard pass and Tristan Hawkins’ 19-yard run set up Lann’s 17-yard touchdown to Turner Sanderson, and J.T. Pitts ran for the two-pointer.
Turnovers kept the Seminoles from the end zone for the rest of the half, including a fumble by Lann at the Noles’ 31 on their last possession. Hatley (0-2) forced four fumbles in the half.
Pitts wasted no time in scoring in the second half with a 58-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
“That kickoff did deplete us a little bit,” Hatley coach Marty Warren said. “They came out of the locker room with the same intensity they had in the first half, and I think ours fell off.”
After a Hatley three-and-out, Pitts’ 35-yard run on the next drive set up Lann’s 4-yard keeper to put the Noles up 22-6 halfway through the third quarter.
Lann padded the lead with his two scores in the third quarter on touchdown runs of 4 and 10 yards. He added his third score of the game on 14-yard run, capped off by Hawkins’ run in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
“It was a matter of him concentrating and saying, ‘This is what I want, and I’m going to dig deep and go for it,’” Tacker said of Lann’s second half.
Hawkins finished with 83 yards on 14 carries. Pitts’ 52-yard punt return with two minutes left closed the scoring.