Leopards get Take 2 right

November 08, 2008|By MARK KELLER

BOONSBORO -- In 2007, the Smithsburg football team won its first nine games only to lose to archrival Boonsboro in the final week of the regular season.

Friday night, the Smithsburg football team again took a 9-0 record into the final week of the regular season and its game against Boonsboro.

This time, the Leopards were determined to see a different outcome.

Josh Conway took over the Smithsburg running game in the fourth quarter, scoring the decisive touchdown with 5:15 remaining, and the No. 4 Leopards stuffed a late Boonsboro drive to finish off their undefeated regular season with a 20-13 victory in front of more than 4,000 fans at Warrior Field.

"It was in our heads the whole year. We were not going to let it happen again," Smithsburg linebacker Alex Akers said. "Our whole life now, we can look back and say we beat Boonsboro our senior year."


The win gave Smithsburg (10-0) its first perfect regular season since 1984. It also clinched the MVAL Antietam title -- its first outright conference title since 1984 -- and a second consecutive berth in the Maryland Class 1A West playoffs.

"This means everything," Smithsburg receiver Billy Lawrence said. "We knew Boonsboro was going to be tough, especially with everything we were playing for."

Despite the loss, the No. 3 Warriors (9-1) also clinched a playoff spot for the fourth straight year by virtue of Mountain Ridge's 31-28 loss to Calvert on Friday.

"They physically beat us tonight. They wanted it more," Boonsboro coach Clayton Anders said. "They were better tonight."

Then, as if he needed to repeat it, Anders said, "They were better tonight."

Cumberland rivals Allegany and Fort Hill -- who square off in their season finale today -- round out the region field. An Allegany win could lead to Week 10 rematches in the first round of the postseason.

"We're playing at home, so it doesn't matter who we play," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said.

The Leopards seemed to be in control after taking a 13-7 lead midway through the third quarter. Kyle Orndorff connected with Lawrence on a 37-yard touchdown pass, giving Lawrence the Leopards' single-season record for receiving touchdowns.

It was a play that Orndorff and Lawrence just missed on in the first half.

"They left the post open," Lawrence said. "We missed on it the first time, but got it the second."

Boonsboro then turned the ball over on consecutive possessions -- one on a fumbled exchange between Tyler Walsh and Brandon McLean, the other an interception by Conway of a long Walsh pass.

The Leopards took that lead into the fourth, but a punt for negative yardage set up Boonsboro with good field position. Seth Poffenberger picked up 21 yards on a double reverse, Jackson Phillipson went 12 yards on a counter play and a pass interference penalty helped the Warriors move the ball to the Smithsburg 19. Two plays later, Phillipson went into the end zone untouched from 20 yards out to tie the score.

From there, Conway took charge. He gained 27 yards to open Smithsburg's next drive. After two carries by Erick Parker -- who finished with 96 yards on 25 carries -- Conway carried three more times, the last a 7-yard touchdown run that turned out to be the game-winner. Conway finished with 80 yards on 10 carries.

"The touchdown was outstanding, the interception was outstanding ... whatever he did tonight was outstanding," Buddy Orndorff said. "He's just a ball-smart kid."

The Warriors inched their way down the field, moving all the way down to the Smithsburg 29. But on third-and-4, McLean was stuffed for a 1-yard loss. McLean took a pitch on fourth down and looked to sweep around right end, but there was no room and he was dropped two yards short of the first down, allowing the Leopards to run out the clock.

McLean scored the first points of the game late in the second quarter on a 5-yard run that was set up by a 39-yard pass from Walsh to Seth Poffenberger.

The Leopards answered right back, however, as Conway took the ensuing kickoff and fought through three waves of tacklers, returning the kick 80 yards to quickly tie the score.

"Everyone wants to put you on your back, you just have to refuse to go down," Conway said.

"He absolutely had excellent effort," Anders said. "We had seven kids who missed him. Seven kids had him on the sideline and couldn't push him out."

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