Lions control their playoff destiny after win

Football stockBy Melissa Meador

Monroe Journal

HAMILTON – Hamilton controls its own destiny in a mixed up Division 1-1A after picking up a 13-12 win over county rival Smithville.

The Lions moved into sole possession of second place and are set to play Coffeeville next week for the division title.

“This is a big win because it means we get to play for a division championship,” Hamilton coach Ray Weeks said. “We knew it was going to be a slugfest and a four quarter game because it always comes down to that.”

With key stops from both defenses in the first quarter, Hamilton (8-2, 6-1) finally got on the board on the first play of the second, with Pallas Fair breaking loose for a 25-yard TD run for a 6-0 lead.

Smithville (7-3, 5-2) answered in the ensuing possession. QB Drew Lann hit Neil Knight for a first-down catch to get deep in Hamilton territory, then sprinted to the end zone from 21 yards out to tie the game up.

After a three-and-out for the Lions to open the second half, Lann marched the Seminoles down the field on a 64-yard drive capped off with his 9-yard scoring run for a 12-6 lead.

Hamilton got to the red zone quickly after a long run from Keshon Heard on the next possession, but a pair of holding penalties pushed the Lions back. On second-and-30, Byron Butler found Heard in the corner of the end zone for a 40-yard score to put them back on top at 13-12. They made it hold up with a fourth-down stop.

Smithville countered by stopping the Lions on fourth-and-goal from the ’Noles 9-yard line with three minutes left, but after a couple of completions by Lann to get to midfield, Hamilton forced four straight incomplete passes to get the ball back with less than a minute to go.

“We made critical mistakes and played a terrible ballgame on offense,” Smithville coach Bubba Tacker said. “We didn’t execute, and they had a great game plan on defense.”

Fair finished with 70 yards on 14 carries. Lann had 151 yards on 20 carries and was 5 of 12 passing for 78 yards. Smithville closes out the regular season hosting Houlka.

melissa.meador@journalinc.com