"I'm happy for the kids, happy that it meant so much to them," Orndorff said.
"It gives us a whole new attitude about things," Clopper, a junior, said. "Last year, we lost the first few games, and it got us down, and we never got back out of the hole."
The Leopards got out of the hole quickly Friday night. Smithsburg got the opening kickoff and picked up first downs on four of its first five plays, moving from its own 31 to the Hancock 12. Two penalties pushed the Leopards back, and on fourth-and-5 from the 7 Clopper was stoned by John Allen for no gain.
But a Hancock pass was tipped five plays later for an interception at the Hancock 28, and three plays later - all Clopper carries - he redeemed himself by diving into the end zone from the 7 for a 7-0 lead.
"I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage, particularly in the first half," Orndorff said. "I thought we could have scored three times in the first half, but we self-destructed. But they overcame that, and they didn't let that beat them."
Matching fumbles gave Smithsburg the ball on the Hancock 37 with 1:10 left in the first half to set up a wild finish. Leopards quarterback Kevin Lowe was nearly intercepted for a sure touchdown, and then a halfback pass by Clopper was caught and run to the 2 with six seconds left. After a Hancock timeout, Jeff Knable was hauled down at the 1 to end the half.
"I think if I hadn't have lost my voice, I could have yelled something at them that may have worked," Orndorff said.
Hancock looked determined after the defensive stop. The Panthers took the second-half kickoff and kept the ball for nearly 10 minutes, but never gained more than nine yards on a play. It came back to haunt them when Mike Hixon's pass was tipped and caught by Allen for three yards at the Smithsburg 32 - on a fourth-and-4.
"We're disappointed," Hancock coach Steve Campbell said. "We don't get the chance to play local teams very often, and the kids want to come down here and make a good showing, even knock someone off."
Smithsburg marched right back down the field, giving fullback Steve Myers a chance to run instead of block. He responded with 18 yards on four carries to end the third quarter, before handing the spotlight back to Clopper to open the fourth. He took over from there, getting the final 15 yards himself on three carries - including a 6-yard score - to put Smithsburg up 14-0 and essentially ice the game.
"We weren't as big as them," Campbell said. "And from tackle to tackle, they beat us."