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High school football: Leopards' defense pitches shutout

August 31, 2012|By CURT HORNBECKER | Staff Correspondent

SMITHSBURG — Regardless of any mistakes the Smithsburg offense or special teams might have made, the defense had their back.

The Leopards’ stifling, opportunistic defensive unit completely shut down Northern Garrett to claim a 30-0 victory Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

“I thought the defense did a really nice job,” Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said. “The defensive line played solid, and we did a good job with our pass defense. I just thought we wore them down on both sides of the ball.”

That job was made much easier with Northern Garrett fielding just 21 players, and with the Leopards holding a significant size advantage.

At the half, with Smithsburg holding a 24-0 advantage, the Huskies had no yards in total offense. For the game, Northern Garrett was thrown for a loss 12 times on 33 rushes, and managed just 34 yards offensively.

To make matters more difficult for Northern Garrett, the Leopards started quickly, and likely surprised the Huskies with an effective passing attack.

Zachary Krall found Matthew Stevens with a 22-yard touchdown pass at the 7:48 mark of the first period, and hit Colby Messersmith from 7 yards out with 3:13 remaining for a 14-0 lead.

“We wanted to get off fast,” Orndorff said. “Then we wanted to establish the running game and become more balanced; and I think we did that. We may have thrown a couple passes too many, but they were there.”

The Leopards were far from perfect, fumbling the ball six times and losing three. But each time, the defense rose to the occasion.

Ironically, it was a Northern Garrett fumble that set up Smithsburg’s third score, when Bryan Tracey pounced on a Huskies miscue at the Northern Garrett 15. Two plays later, Austin Ryan scored from the 2 for a 21-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.

Ryan made it 24-0 at the half with a 30-yard field goal as time expired.

Smithsburg took the second-half kickoff and marched 57 yards — Ryan’s 33-yard return gave the Leopards good field position — with Dalton Condo gaining 43 yards on the drive, including the final two yards for the game’s final score.

Substituting liberally, the Leopards’ defense allowed the Huskies to respond with a march of their own, but again the defense stiffened and the march stalled at the Smithsburg 37.

“This is a big win for these guys,” Orndorff said. “These guys have been working really hard, the leadership is really great, the juniors and seniors all get along, and we found some depth tonight, which is really nice.”

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