Smyrna pulls away in 2nd half for 35-13 rout

Smyrna pulls away in 2nd half for 35-13 rout

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Smyrna pulls away in 2nd half for 35-13 rout

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SMYRNA

A one-point halftime lead wasn’t enough Friday night for Smyrna coach Matt Williams against visiting Northeast.

His Bulldogs heard the message loud and clear, scoring on their opening possession of the second half and adding a defensive touchdown on the way to an eventual 35-13 win.

“He wore us out at halftime,” said senior defensive back Pernell Whittaker, who scored on a 15-yard fumble return with 3:53 remaining to give Smyrna a two-score advantage. “He let us know we weren’t being physical enough, and it turned us around. We came out and played as a unit.”

With the win, Smyrna stayed undefeated at 4-0 – a marked improvement over last year’s 1-9 finish.

“We put in the work over the offseason,” Whittaker said. “We had a chip on our shoulder.”

It showed Friday night. Northeast (2-2) took a 7-0 first-quarter lead and was up 13-7 on a Montrell Pardue 23-yard touchdown run before Smyrna rallied on a 9-yard scoring run by Ladarius Summers.

The Eagles threatened to score just before halftime, but D.J. Williams intercepted Pardue’s pass in the end zone with less than a minute remaining.

Then Matt Williams got his team refocused.

“We got manhandled in the first half,” the coach said. “I felt like we responded much better in the second half. We were much more physical, got some turnovers, and Pernell got the ‘scoop-and-score’ toward the end.

“Our defense made plays when we had to.”

D.J. Williams added a second end-zone interception and returned it to midfield, setting up Rodney Shelton’s 23-yard TD with 1:44 to play.

Northeast was called for 11 penalties for 93 yards, including an ineligible receiver infraction that negated a 61-yard scoring pass early in the second quarter.

“I thought we lost 21 points on penalties in the first half,” Northeast coach Isaac Shelby said. “That makes it a different game in the second half, if we don’t lose those against a quality (Class) 6A team.”

Summers finished with 91 rushing yards for Smyrna, with Matt Rodell throwing for 135 yards and a TD.

Pardue rushed for 61 yards for Northeast, with Dontavious Fort adding 69 and Sebastian Bacino 57.

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