KANSAS CITY – A steady dose of ground-and-pound football pushed Smith-Cotton to a 21-6 win Friday night over Archbishop O’Hara High School.
Holding a 7-0 lead at the half, S-C opened the second half with a 30-yard run by junior running back Brice Pannier, but Pannier fumbled as he went down, giving the Celtics the ball on their 35-yard line. A 10-yard run by Celtics quarterback Matt Johnson turned into a 25-yard gain after a Smith-Cotton unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. But the Tigers defense didn’t break, instead forcing a touchback.
S-C then ramped up its ground game, mixing in a 12-yard pass to junior wide receiver A.J. Wilkinson for a first down. Junior running back Gauge Young finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown run, and freshman kicker Brett Grupe added the PAT to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead.
The Celtics responded with a 40-yard TD pass from Johnson to Corbin Jones; the PAT failed, leaving the score at 14-6. O’Hara attempted an onside kick, but the Tigers smothered it near the 50-yard line. A handful of plays later, Young added a 20-yard TD run.
Smith-Cotton iced the game when senior defensive back Jacob Sutherland intercepted a Johnson pass and returned it inside the 10-yard line.
The Tigers opened the scoring with a Pannier three-yard blast in the first quarter.
S-C Head Coach Ryan Boyer said the Tigers (4-2) spent halftime talking about three potential scoring drives that ended due to fumbles or setbacks due to penalties.
“We talked about good defensive effort, we were getting stops,” Boyer said. “But we told them, ‘Offensively the team that is stopping you is the team we are talking to right now.’ They didn’t point fingers. They stepped up … And they got it fixed.”
The game marked O’Hara’s final Homecoming; the school is consolidating next year.
Smith-Cotton, now 3-0 in West Central Conference play, face Clinton on the road 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.