Ithaca started the 2012 season strong and executed frighteningly well for a season opener on both sides of the ball in a 45-0 non-league win over Williamston.
“We were very pleased that we were able to come down and put two halves together on both sides of the ball and we’re very pleased to come down here and play like that,” Ithaca coach Terry Hessbrook said.
“Winning the state championship puts a real big target on our chest and we just needed to come out here and execute and do what we’ve been doing all offseason,” junior quarterback Travis Smith said.
It almost looked like there had been no offseason for the Yellowjackets, who increased their winning streak to 29 games with the victory and won their 40th game since the start of the 2009 season.
“It feels like I just played in the state championship game a few weeks ago actually,” Smith said, referring to Ithaca’s win over Constantine at Ford Field back last November.
“We’ve all been so excited for this and this game and it just feels like all one season.”
The Ithaca defense helped start the engines for an offense that averaged close to 44 points per game last year with Smith at the helm as a sophomore.
An early interception led to an 8-yard run by senior running back Jacob Barnes for the game’s first score.
Senior Bradley Martyn gave the Yellowjacket defense another takeaway later in the first quarter when he fell on a Hornet fumble, setting up a 51-yard pass from Smith to senior receiver Zach Allen on a third and 16 to make the score 12-0.
The defense helped the Yellowjackets out again in the second quarter, as senior Jordan Hessbrook took an interception 35 yards to the end zone to make the score 19-0.
Ithaca held Williamston to 113 yards of offense and forced five turnovers.
“Our defense did great tonight,” Smith said.
“We’re definitely faster and a lot quicker so it’s harder for those offensive linemen to get into our defensive linemen and get their hands on them and get some blocks. Our defense is looking really good.”
With Ithaca up 19, it was Smith’s turn to crank the offense into high gear like he did all of last season. After Williamston pinned the Yellowjackets inside the 20-yard line, the junior took a quarterback keeper around the left side of his line and sprinted 86 yards for a touchdown.
Less than two minutes later, Smith put the right amount of touch on a deep ball to senior Caden Kipp as the two hooked up for a 33-yard touchdown to put Ithaca up 33-0 at the half.
Smith showed off the variety of this offense — striking quickly for scores while also being able to sustain a long drive.
A 16 play, 88-yard march that took over five minutes ended in a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Dakota Reeves in the third quarter.
Smith threw for 154 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 193 yards and a score.
“Coming out at the start of the season and knowing I’m the starting quarterback just makes me feel a lot more comfortable,” said Smith, who came on in place of the injured David Brown last season.
Senior Carter Bastien had six tackles, including five solos, to lead Williamston while sophomore Chaz Moore had an interception for the Hornets.