Trailing 8-5 early the second half, Smithville would then rally around each other and go on to play 19-plus minutes of inspired football on Thursday night to pull off a 14-8 come-from-behind victory over Division 1-1A opponent Okolona.
The Seminoles (9-0, 6-0) came together at the Okolona 25-yard line near the right hash mark when their starting quarterback, Antwune Freeman, was knocked unconscious and laid motionless on the field following a running play with 7:37 left in the third quarter.
“My cousin Antwune, he went to the hospital and we just wanted to do it for him,” said Damantrio Freeman, who intercepted an Okolona pass at the Smithville 16 to run out the clock and keep Smithville’s perfect record intact.
Said lineman Steve Adams, who forced Okolona quarterback Zack Brooks to fumble the ball out of the end zone for a safety with 2:33 remaining in the game, “It was the hardest game we played all year hands down. We came out big. Everybody on the field, we played it for Antwune out there. He’s our leader and that’s what we’re out here for.”
Smithville assistant coach Jordan Summerford said Antwune Freeman experienced some spinal pain, but was alert and moving. Freeman was taken off on a stretcher and driven to the hospital in Amory for precautionary reasons, said Summerford.
“He’s coming home tonight,” said Smithville assistant coach John Hallman, who then explained that Freeman has a bump near the lower part of his neck.
Perhaps over-exhausted by the all excitement of this late regular-season game between two undefeated teams in division play was Smithville head coach Bubba Tacker. For the final two-and-a-half minutes of the game, Tacker was crouched down, suffering from apparent chest pains, according to Summerford and Smithville High principal Chad O’Brian.
“We don’t really know what’s wrong with him,” Hallman said. “He had a very stressful day.”
Nonetheless, Tacker was also taken to the hospital in Amory.
“It was a hard game, a hard game,” repeated Smithville running back Datrune Freeman, who is Antwune’s brother. “We had to come out and play fundamentally well and just do our thing like our coach teaches us.
“If we do our thing, we’d come out with the win like we did.”
At nearly the same minute and second the scoreboard clock would read when his brother would lay motionless on the field, Datrune Freeman would rush 14 yards for a touchdown to give the Seminoles a 12-7 fourth-quarter lead following the extra point. His score came at 7:33 in the final period.
“It was kind of hard looking at it, though,” Datrune said of when his brother got injured. “But I gotta step up and do my thing – and play hard.”
Almost a minute after Antwune Freeman kicked a 21-yard field goal to start the second quarter, Okolona’s Derrick Ivy zipped up the middle virtually untouched for a 15-yard rushing touchdown.
The Seminoles would block a punt resulting in a safety with 4:36 to play in the first half. The safety made it an 8-5.
“It comes down to making plays,” said Okolona coach Calvin Aldridge, whose team dropped to 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the division. “In games like this, if you don’t make plays, then that’s what happens: You lose.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or email@example.com