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Leopards remain unbeaten

October 21, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER

SMITHSBURG - The No. 2 Smithsburg football team capped its Homecoming game Saturday afternoon the same way it started it - with a goal-line stand.

The latter stand cemented the win, while the former set the tone, and the Leopards did enough in between to hold off South Hagerstown 26-13 and remain unbeaten.

"Typical Homecoming game," said Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndoff. "One minute we were there, the next, we don't know where we are. We played good enough to win, but we need to pick up the intensity."

The intensity showed in crunch time for the Smithsburg defense, which held South scoreless in three red-zone attempts. The Leopards (7-0) stopped quarterback Wes Samples at the 1-yard line on fourth down to halt the Rebels' opening possession, and they held firm twice in the fourth quarter - Josh Conway intercepted a pass at the goal line with five minutes left and the Rebels were stopped at the 4 before time expired.

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"Give (Smithsburg) credit. They're 7-0 for a reason," South coach Greg Kellick said. "We practice every day, but we're still making dumb mistakes. We just have to execute."

South (1-6) ran five plays inside the 10 on its first drive but came away empty. Samples carried the ball the last three times - once after a fumbled snap - and gained just two yards.

As it turned out, the failure to finish the drive came back to haunt the Rebels. Smithsburg took over at its 1 and drove the length of the field in only 3 minutes, 3 seconds to take a 7-0 lead. Bryan Faulders hit Conway on a pair of screen passes that gained 41 yards and Bobby Smith rushed for 38 yards, including the finishing 11-yard touchdown.

"There's no reason we shouldn't be able to score from inside the 5. There's no excuse," Kellick said. "And for them to come right back and go (99) yards, it took a lot of steam from us."

But the Leopards did not pick up a first down and netted minus-12 yards in the final 15 minutes of the half. Much of the yardage was lost on a fumble that squirted back 37 yards.

"We came out in the first quarter and were as focused as could be. We were playing our brand of football on both sides," Orndorff said. "Then, all of a sudden, we went on vacation and couldn't do anything. Just like that."

South fared no better and totaled just 46 yards in the first half. Both offenses got on track in the third quarter, beginning with the Leopards. A 21-yard punt return by Kevin Kocsis put Smithsburg at the South 26 and, four plays later, Alex Akers scored from 3 yards out with 8 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.

An interception by Conway - his first of three - put the Leopards' offense at the Rebels' 38, and Smith scored his second touchdown, this time from 6 yards out, to cap the five-play drive with 6 1/2 minutes left in the period.

South finally cracked the scoreboard with just over two minutes left in the period when Samples hit Cory Shank, who wrestled with Leopards corner Andrew Mothershed, for the 43-yard touchdown. Samples went to Shank once again on the first drive of the fourth quarter and, once again, Shank beat Mothershead to score from 32 yards and cut the score to 20-13 with 10:19 left in the game.

Smithsburg answered by driving 81 yards on nine plays, capped by Andrew Dinterman's 14-yard touchdown catch from Faulders with 6:07 left. Smith ran for 36 yards and Faulders hit Kocsis for a 31-yard pass to fuel the drive. Smith finished with 128 yards on 25 carries, while Faulders was 8-for-15 for 134 yards.

"That drive showed the caliber ball team we can be," Orndorff said. "To come right back like that was big."

Conway intercepted Samples on the next two South drives to end any comeback threat. Samples finished 9-for-22 for 146 yards and Eric Phillips had 85 yards rushing for the Rebels.

By Kelly Hahn Johnson/Staff Photographer

Smithsburg's Josh Conway intercepts the ball intended for South Hagerstown's Eric Philips in the third quarter Saturday.

By Kelly Hahn Johnson/Staff Photographer

Smithsburg's Bobby Smith breaks the plane of the goal line to score his second touchdown of the day in the Leopards' 26-13 Homecoming victory over South Hagerstown on Saturday.

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