By Rob Williams
For the Monroe Journal
SMITHVILLE – After a scoreless first half, Smithville coach Bubba Tacker made some adjustments at halftime. The changes propelled the Seminoles to a 7-0 win over Belmont in the season-opener.
“We didn’t know what to expect from Belmont,” Tacker said. “We put together the best plan we could, but they did something we weren’t expecting. With a lot of our guys going both ways, it’s hard to make adjustments during the game. At hafltime, we had the time to talk to the team and change some things we were doing.”
First-game jitters seem to affect both teams as mistakes and penalties stalled every first half drive. After several exchanges of punts, the Seminoles got the first opportunity to put points on the board midway through the first quarter. Tristan Hawkins hit the Belmont quarterback and knocked the ball loose, while Joseph Kuykendall recovered the fumble at the Cardinal 21-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Smithville running back Tyler Hood had the ball knocked loose, and Belmont recovered at the 25.
On second and eight, Seminole Tony Anderson fell on a bad snap, giving Smithville a first-and-goal at the 7-yard line. Hood got the ball down to the three, but lost the ball into the end zone on the next play for a touchback.
The Cardinals ran two plays after receiving the second-half kickoff before fumbling the ball back to the Seminoles. Austin Craig recovered the Belmont miscue, giving the Seminoles good field postion at the 35. Three incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs at the 30.
Anderson caused a 3-yard loss and penalties pushed the Cardinals back to the nine forcing them to punt from their own end zone. The punt rolled dead at the 42, once again giving Smithville good field position.
One of Tacker’s hafltime adjustments was to give the ball to Hood, and the senior running back responded with an 11-yard run on first down. Quarterback Drew Lann got his team down to the 2-yard line with a couple of keepers. Hood powered his way into the endzone, but a yellow flag cancelled the score and pushed the Seminoles back five yards.
Not to be denied, Hood got four yards on his next carry and then fought his way back into the endzone on second and goal. Dalton McMellon tacked on the point after to put Smithville up 7-0 with 2:02 left in the third quarter.
Tacker stayed with his new game plan with Hood pounding out yards and Lann keeping the Cardinals on their toes with some quarterback keepers.
McMellon tried a 39-yard field goal with just over two minutes left in the game, but it came up short. The Cardinals tried four straight passes, but the Seminole defense held and took over on downs at the 20.