By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BELDEN – The Smithville Seminoles came into its Friday contest with an eye on maintaining their second-place status in Region 1-1A.
A gritty Tupelo Christian Prep Eagles almost sent the Seminoles home with a black eye, but Smithville was able to hold on for a 14-13 victory.
“It was a sloppy win, but anytime you win is good,” Smithville coach Bubba Tacker said. “Tupelo had a great game-plan tonight.
“And as far as the playoffs, this win was very important in that aspect.”
Smithville (6-3, 6-1) entered the contest tied with Falkner in the region with only one loss.
The Eagles (4-5, 3-4) jumped to the early lead as quarterback Andrew Soper scored on an 8-yard run on the last play of the first quarter.
The score stayed the same until midway through the third period when Turner Sanderson hauled in a pass from Drew Lann for a 10-yard touchdown to tie the score.
Then in the fourth quarter, Smithville gained some favorable field position, then converted that into points.
Alone in a crowd
Running back Tristan Hawkins broke through a crowded line of scrimmage, then set sail for a 43-yard scoring run with 6 minutes to play to give the Seminoles a 14-7 lead.
Tupelo kept battling, with Lee McBunch grabbing an interception that set the Eagles up for a score. Backup quarterback J.G. Lipscomb found Zachory Tybor for an 8-yard TD with 2:58 remaining to play.
But on the extra point, J.T. Pitts laid out and blocked the kick, keeping Smithville ahead 14-13.
Tupelo was able to get one more possession, and drove as deep as the Smithville 17-yard line. But a sack and a penalty forced TCPS into attempting a 50-yard field goal on the last play of the game, which failed.
“This loss was a big blow for us,” TCPS coach Aubrey Boren said. “I have some great kids, they fought hard, and left it all on the field.”
For Smithville, Hawkins rushed for 171 yards. For TCPS, Soper passed for 83 yards in three quarters, and Lipscomb threw for 61 yards in the fourth quarter.