Owls Crush Dragons 40-2

JAMESTOWN — The Smith County Owls traveled to the Dragon Pit on Friday night and handed the York Institute Dragons a crushing 40-2 defeat, ending the season for York.

Carson Hackett completed 14 of 20 passes for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns while Dustin Holder rushed for 216 yards on 15 carries to lead the Owls to the Region 4-3A victory to pick up their 5th win of the year against four losses, and assure themselves of a playoff berth.

Overall, the Owls rolled up 499 yards of offense, while holding the Dragons to 229 yards.

After a scoreless first period, the Owls broke the scoring deadlock midway through the second period when Cameron Huff pulled in a pass from Hackett for a 47-yard score at the 7:29 mark, opening up the floodgate for 20 Owl points in just over 6 minutes to take a 20-0 halftime advantage.

Holder added a touchdown run of 39 yards 3 minutes later, and Hackett connected with Holder for another score with 45 seconds before intermission.

The Owls continued to pull away in he second half, as they  put together two successive 80+ yard drives on their first two possessions of the third period.

After holding the Dragons on their first possession of the second half, Smith County began play at their 16 and put together an 84-yard scoring drive, which was capped by a 25-yard pass from Hackett to Huff, with Ethan Elliot booting the conversion to go up 27-0 with 7:29 left in the third frame.

Less than four minutes later, Bryant Goolsby capped a 4-play, 82-yard drive when he took it in from 7 yards out to give the Owls a 34-0 advantage.  The key play in this drive was a 65-yard pass from Bailey Kemp to set up the score.

The Owls would add another score with 39 seconds left in the third period when Matt Rutherford took it in from 14 yards out.

York’s only score of the contest came with 1:21 left in the contest, when Cole Brown and Shane Cullum sacked Andrew Gibbs in the Smith County end zone for a safety.

The Dragons, which have averaged almost 30 points a game this year, could never put together a sustained drive, although they managed to roll up 198 yards rushing  and 229 yards total offense, turnovers played a big part in the game’s outcome, as Smith County intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble to stop potential scoring drives.

The Dragons were only 4 for 14 on third down plays and 1 for 5 on fourth down plays, giving up the ball in their own territory three times on fourth down plays.

Mason Cravens led the York offense with 96 net yards on 23 carries, while Ethan Probst had 94 yards on 18 carries.

Cravens also completed 5 of 14 passes for 31 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, Bryant Goolsby, Bailey Kemp and Matt Rutherford paced Smith County with 15, 11, and 10 tackles respectively, while freshmen Cole Cooper and Landrick Leffew led York with 12 and 8 tackles respectively, senior Cole Brown had 7 tackles and 1 assist, and junior Trent Hancock had 4 tackles and 3 assists.

With the loss, the Dragons finish the season with a 2-8 record, while Smith County improved to 5-4 on the season with one game left.

Following the game, an obviously disappointed head coach Derik Samber commented:  “We just didn’t execute well, but in defense of our team, we were playing 3 freshman a lot of the game tonight, and we have 5 starters out with injuries.  I know it’s been a disappointing year for our fans, but we started the year with very few players who had any substantial playing experience.

“Our defense played very well for the first quarter and a half.  We just couldn’t seem to get any offense going when we needed to.

“We’ve had several close games this year,” Samber continued –the DeKalb County game up here-(which York lost 42-41) — we had the opportunity to win that one, and the game at Livingston where we had them beat until the last minute.”

“I told our senior that they helped us turn the corner, because, despite our record, we made some great strides this year.  We had six state-ranked teams on our schedule, and were were competitive for the most part against all of them.

“I hate it for our seniors, but I’m looking forward to starting to work toward next year.  We have a lot of younger players who’ve grown up a lot this year and are ready to step up and help bring our program back to where it needs to be.”

In conclusion, Coach Samber thanked the fans for their loyal support, stating:  “I really appreciate the tremendous turnout of our fans, who stood by us even though the results were not what we wanted.