Georgetown – The math was easy, Smyrna needed a win to qualify for the Class AAA state tournament and a chance to defend their 2022 state title. What laid ahead of them was the District 2 champion Sussex Central.
scored three touchdowns for the Eagles, which was one more than his season total prior to Friday night helping lead Smyrna to a 40-35 victory.
“We were able to run the ball more tonight, that was key and Kearny was a big part of that tonight,” Smyrna head coach Mike Judy said.
It was Sussex Central that got the scoring started when Will Harmon capped off the opening drive of the game with a six yard touchdown run. Rodney Escobar-Gonzales added the point after kick giving the Golden Knights a 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
Harmon struck again for the Golden Knights three minutes later when he stepped in front of a Drew Marks pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown. Escobar-Gonzales converted the kick as Sussex Central jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
Smyrna drove down the field on their next possession finishing it off with a one yard touchdown run by Kearney. Jesse Dixon converted the run attempt as the Eagles closed the score to 14-8 with three minutes left to play in the first quarter.
The Golden Knights answered quickly as Harmon reeled off a 46 yard run plus a penalty for a horse collar tackle moving the ball to the Smyrna seven yard line. Two plays later Malik Bell scored on a three yard run giving Sussex Central a 21-8 lead as the first quarter came to an end. The Golden Knights would not score again until midway through the fourth quarter.
Smyrna would close the gap early in the second quarter when Marks scored on a seven yard quarterback keeper. Kearney added the conversion run cutting the lead to 21-16.
The Eagles added two touchdowns in the third quarter first on a 42 yard run by Dior Mackey and then later on a one yard run by Kearney giving Smyrna a 32-21 lead after three quarters.
The teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Sussex Central inserted two fullbacks into the game sparking the run game. Bell scored on a one yard run and later Kevon Moore-Briddell added a one yard run of his own for a touchdown sandwiching Kearney’s third touchdown of the game giving Smyrna a 40-35 victory and a spot in the Class AAA state tournament.
“Those two huge backs Sussex Central put in were tough, they gashed us early, but we made some adjustments and put them in a position to throw the ball,” Judy said.
Smyrna totaled 208 total yards on offense with 147 coming in the passing game and 161 on the ground. The Eagles had three different quarterbacks lead scoring drives.
Sussex Central amassed 212 yards total offense with 157 coming on the ground.
Coach Judy said that at this point he didn’t care who they play in the upcoming state tournament he was happy that they have a chance to compete.
“Anything you can do to extend your time with your football family is good. It doesn’t really matter who we play, but that we get another week together,” Judy said.
Sussex Central fell to 7-3 overall and 4-1 in District 2 and will be the number two seed in the Class AAA state tournament. Both teams will await some Saturday results to see who their opponent will be.
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