McMillian opens big Hamilton victory over Smithville with kickoff return TD

By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal

HAMILTON – Hamilton got what it expected from the backfield and the Lions ran right past Smithville 42-0 on Friday night.
In the season opener, Hamilton got 72 yards on 10 carries and a pair of touchdowns from senior Cojuante McMillian, who opened the game with a 70-yard kick return for the season’s first touchdown.
“Offensively we came out and clicked well early,” said Hamilton coach Ray Weeks. “Defensively we weren’t as physical as I thought we should have been.”
Junior back Deion Howard also scored on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Zarrat Sims, breaking four tackles on the play as the Lions (1-0) led 28-0 at the half.
Smithville (0-1), at home in a week for the first time since the April 27 tornado, couldn’t muster much offense with 16 new starters on the field.
The Lions scored twice off of three Seminoles turnovers. McMillian scored from a yard out after Hamilton recovered a fumbled punt. His 22-yard run set up the score. Howard’s catch came after Kyle Dahlem recovered a fumble at the Smithville 34.
“Even though we shut them out, in the first half I thought they did some things to us,” Weeks said. “We saw some things we’ve got to clean up but for the first ball game, I was pleased.”
Hamilton went ahead 14-0 after McMillian’s 1-yard run in the first and after Howard scored, Cole Richardson caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Sims with 4:33 left in the half.
“They made some good runs and had some good second effort runs,” Weeks said. “We made some good pitch and catches.”
Hamilton kicker Sander Grondman was a perfect 6 for 6 on extra point s.
In the second half, sophomore Quinshay Heard scored on a 46-yard run and Caleb Garvin scored on an 8-yard run.
“It’s just one of those years,” Smithville head coach Bubba Tacker said. “We’re down a little bit but it’s alright. We’ll be back. It’s pretty devastating in any game to get the opening kickoff ran back.”