SMITHVILLE – With a home playoff game on the line in the regular-season finale for the Division 1-1A rivals, the Falkner Eagles and the Smithville Seminoles, the home team wasted little time in staking their claim to the No. 2 seed.
The Seminoles, the second – ranked team in the Daily Journal’s Class 1A/2A rankings – recovered an onside kick to start the game, marched 42 yards to take a 8-0 lead and never looked back, cruising past the fourth-ranked Eagles, 35-6.
The Seminoles will host a Class 1A playoff game against Greenviulle St. Joe next week; Falkner hits the road as the No. 3 seed.
Smithville scored on their first two possessions for a 15-0 lead mid-way through the first quarter. Coach Bubba Tacker said starting fast was key.
“That’s what we talked about all week,” said Tacker. “I told the boys if we took care of the football and played good defense, we would be in the game and probably would win it and that’s what happen.”
The Seminoles did have four turnovers, two fumbles and two interceptions by starting quarterback Drew Lann, but the Smithville defense did their part by limiting a normally potent Falkner rushing attack to just 79 yards. The Eagles had averaged almost 350 per game. Leading rusher Jeramie Lawrence had just two carries for six yards.
“I was kind of expecting a great game out of the defense and they stepped up tonight,” added Tacker.
Smithville rushed for 312 yards. Senior Turner Sanderson led with a game-high 143 yards on 19 carries, while junior Tyler Hood rushed for 114 yards with touchdown runs of 25 and 35 yards. He also hauled in a 25-yard first half TD pass from Lann. They led 23-0 at the break.
Lann finished 4 of 6 for 101 yards. Smithville (9-1, 7-1) outgained Falkner 413-122.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for Falkner (9-2, 6-2), who was led by junior Tray Woody with 56 yards rushing and a fourth-quarter TD to avoid the shutout.
Falkner coach Ben Ashley said Smithville beat his team at its own game.
“You’ve got to give Smithville all the credit. They made things tough on us and my hats off to them,” said Ashley who has guided Falkner to back-to-back playoff appearances in his first two seasons. “We never quit, but they beat us. They beat us the way we were beating people. They physically lined up and whipped us.”