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Knights get right against Leopards

October 04, 2003|by CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - No football team in the area wanted to be Smithsburg on Friday.

The Leopards were faced with the unenviable task of traveling to Middletown to face a perennial powerhouse desperately in search of its first win at the midpoint of the season. To make matters worse, it was Homecoming.

Yes, the Knights secured their first win of the season, but a 27-15 score was not the drubbing that many expected.

Two big plays to open the second half gave Middletown the breathing room it needed, and the Leopards simply were unable to recover.

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"(Middletown) came out charged in the third quarter," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said. "I'm pleased with the way we played. Of course, we would have loved to have won, but I can't fault the effort."

After squeaking through the first half with a 10-7 lead, Middletown's Shawn Beachley - who finished with 114 yards rushing on 28 carries - took the second-half kickoff 58 yards to the Leopards' 32, then ran it into the end zone on the first play from scrimmage for a 17-7 advantage.

"We got stuffed on offense in the first half," Beachley said. "(Smithsburg) came out hitting real hard, but in the second half when we needed two plays to get a touchdown, they weren't hitting quite as hard."

Smithsburg's offense marched 51 yards but stalled on the Knights' 15. Justin Neives' 31-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.

Dan McCallion rushed for 41 yards in a 62-yard Middletown drive that resulted in a 26-yard John Keimig field goal.

The Knights (1-4) dealt the fatal blow on their first possession of the fourth quarter, using eight rushing plays to cover 63 yards with Beachley scoring his third TD of the game on a 15-yard jaunt with 7:42 left. The score gave Middletown a 27-7 lead as the overmatched Leopards appeared to be running out of gas.

But Smithsburg wasn't finished, as Justin Thompson carried five times for 36 yards to spark a 65-yard march with Matt Feiser pounding it in from the 1.

"It kind of looked like (we were wearing them down) in the third quarter," Middletown coach Tim Ambrose said. "But give them some credit. In the fourth quarter, they came right back at us."

Despite missing a golden scoring opportunity on its opening possession - first-and-goal at the Smithsburg 2 - the Knights got on the board early in the second quarter on a 19-yard Keimig field goal.

Smithsburg claimed its only lead of the game on a seven-play, 62-yard drive with quarterback Nathan Steelman sweeping eight yards for the score.

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