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Leopards' foundation crumbles in playoff loss

November 15, 2008|By MARK KELLER

The Smithsburg football team spent the entire first half Friday laying the foundation for a playoff win.

That foundation quickly crumbled with one rush, one raised hand, one perfect bounce and a 25-yard sprint as Allegany scored 23 straight points on its way to a 30-20 win over the Leopards in a Maryland Class 1A West semifinal game.

With the Leopards prepared to take a 20-14 lead into halftime, Allegany sent the house at Smithsburg punter Coby Blum and Garrett Livengood got his hand on the kick. Melvin Tyson scooped up the ball in stride and returned it 25 yards for a score to give Allegany a 21-20 edge with just seconds remaining before the break.

The play took some of the shine off a first half in which Smithsburg (10-1) moved the ball incredibly well against a bigger Allegany team. The Leopards gained 241 yards in the first half -- 174 of that coming on the ground as Erick Parker and Tyler Scott found all kinds of running room.

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"The line last week was great and it was again this week," Smithsburg receiver Josh Conway said. "We weren't going to back down from anyone. We were able to use our quickness and get out on top."

Scott blasted through a huge hole for a 35-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage and later added runs of 27 and 22 yards. Parker also ran hard between the tackles, making the first wave of tacklers miss before putting his shoulder down and punishing the second wave.

Parker scored on runs of 19 and 10 yards as Smithsburg built a 20-7 lead midway through the second quarter.

Conway also contributed, catching a pass from Kyle Orndorff at the Allegany 20, taking a hitch step back to the 21 to make two Allegany defenders collide and dashing in for a touchdown.

"Hand it to Smithsburg, they handled us in the first half -- the first quarter particularly," Allegany coach Tom Preaskorn said. "The blocked punt was absolutely huge because it gave us the ability to burn the clock and keep the ball away from their offense in the second half."

That plan worked rather well for the Campers (9-2). Smithsburg had the ball for only 9 minutes of the second half, effectively taking the Leopards away from the running game they had so much success with in the first half.

"We tried to spread it out at the end," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said. "We were trying to catch up, trying to do some other stuff. We did the things we wanted to do, we just didn't have the ball as much as we needed."

Allegany started the second half with a 14-play drive that ran 6 1/2 minutes off the clock and ended with a 30-yard field goal by John Carpenter to give the Campers a 24-20 lead.

Parker started Smithsburg's next drive with runs of 8 and 7 yards, but after Conway was stopped for a loss of 1, Kyle Orndorff floated a pass over the middle that was picked off by Sean Collette.

After forcing an Allegany punt, the Leopards started over from their own 7 and Parker got loose again, breaking through the middle of the line for a gain of 60 that was negated by a holding penalty at the line. That drive ended with a Smithsburg punt.

Smithsburg's defense tightened and forced another Allegany punt. Conway tried to field it at his own 16 but muffed the kick, the ball bouncing into the arms of Allegany's Aaron Leasure. Four plays later, Demetreous Taylor scored on a quarterback draw from 11 yards out for a 30-20 lead with 7:18 left in the game.

"We made some very uncharacteristic mistakes on special teams ... the blocked punt, the muffed punt, missed extra point," Buddy Orndorff said. "Those are things that didn't happen in the regular season."

The Leopards didn't go away, however. Conway returned the ensuing kickoff to the Allegany 49 and later caught a 25-yard pass to move the ball to the 11. On fourth down, Kyle Orndorff's receiver ended up flat on the ground as his pass was picked off in the end zone.

After a fumble recovery by Smithsburg's Jeb Slick with 2:08 remaining, the Leopards took another shot. Conway made an acrobatic catch on the sideline for a 30-yard gain, but Orndorff's next pass was intercepted by Trevor Jessie and Allegany ran out the clock.

"This is one of the best groups of kids I've been around in 34 years of coaching," Buddy Orndorff said. "We represented ourselves as best we could tonight. You know, we're 19-3 the last two years and I know there a lot of schools, a lot of communities that would love to be able to say that about their football team."

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