By Gene Phelps
JACKSON – Drew Lann isn’t sure what defensive scheme French Camp had cooked up for Friday’s MHSAA Class 1A state championship game.
All Smithville’s senior quarterback knows is that it worked.
French Camp held the Seminoles’ potent read-option offense to 99 yards on 48 plays to capture a 27-6 victory in the rain and cold at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“Besides the (wet) conditions, it seemed like they had a good game plan,” Lann said in a quiet Smithville dressing room. “They figured out a way to stop our option.
“Give credit to their defense and the big plays they made on offense.”
Seminoles running back Tyler Hood, who rushed for 1,889 yards this season, had just eight carries for 19 yards.
“You could tell they had studied,” Hood said of the French Camp defense. “They keyed on certain things.”
Smithville (11-4) did have success on its opening drive of the second half when it marched 75 yards in three plays to score on Lann’s 13-yard run. Neil Knight’s 31-yard run and Kyle Knight’s 31-yard pass reception set up the TD.
The score cut French Camp’s lead to 21-6.
Michael Erving, who led all rushers with 72 yards, broke open a scoreless game on the first play of the second quarter when he capped a 91-yard French Camp drive with a 27-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers (11-5), who started the season 0-4, made it 14-0 with 8:28 remaining in the first half when Hagan Box returned a punt 73 yards.
Quarterback Jesse Hosket capped a two-play drive with an 6-yard keeper off right tackle to give French Camp its 21-0 halftime advantage.
Smithville converted on a fake punt late in the half when Hood replaced Kyle Knight at upback and raced 7 yards to the Seminoles’ 47-yard line. However, they were forced to punt four plays later on a fourth-and-14.
Dee Moore intercepted a Hosket pass with 20 seconds remaining in the half to stop a Panthers’ scoring threat at the Smithville 15.
“Our guys fought their hearts out on both sides of the ball,” Smithville coach Bubba Tacker said.