WILMINGTON Now we know how high the scoreboard numbers can go at Baynard Stadium.
Salesianum and Smyrna ran and passed up and down the field against each other for four quarters Friday night. When the smoke finally cleared, the Sals had emerged with a 76-56 victory that will be remembered by everyone in attendance.
Colby Reeder rushed 34 times for an unbelievable 393 yards and seven touchdowns for Sallies. Smyrna quarterback Nolan Henderson completed 26 of 33 passes for 506 yards and four scores.
By the end, both teams were exhausted. The offenses were tired of running away, the defenses were tired of chasing.
Salesianum (3-0), ranked second in Division I, appeared to be on its way to a blowout victory after one quarter. Reeder did as he pleased, ripping off touchdown runs of 7, 25 and 22 yards to give the Sals a 21-0 lead.
Reeder had nine carries for 101 yards after 12 minutes, and Sals quarterback Garrett Cannon was 4 of 4 passing for 92 yards. Smyrna had thrown two interceptions, and it was looking like a very long night for the Eagles.
But fifth-ranked Smyrna (2-1) is used to giving up points, and the Eagles’ offense came to life in the second quarter. Henderson completed passes of 20 yards to Donte Ritchie and 42 yards to Charlie Taylor, and Will Knight ran it in from the 8 and added a two-point run to pull Smyrna within 21-8.
Then the Eagles finally stopped Reeder on a fourth-and-goal at the 1, and took off on a 99-yard drive the other way. Knight caught a short pass from Henderson and screamed 57 yards down the left sideline for the TD, and added another two-point run to make it 21-16.
But the Sals came right back. Peyton Mullin ripped off a 49-yard run on their next play, and tight end Kyle Cathers slipped behind the defense for a juggling, 15-yard touchdown catch. That did nothing to dissuade Smyrna, as Henderson completed two more passes and Knight showed a burst of speed for a 51-yard touchdown run to pull the Eagles within 28-22.
Sallies answered with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Cannon to Jeremy Ryan, and Smyrna found time before the half for another 2-yard run by Knight. Henderson passed to Marquelle Bennett for the 2-pointer to cut the Sals’ lead to 35-30.
Salesianum had 389 total yards at the half. Smyrna had 299. And the big plays kept on coming in the second half.
The Eagles were backed up to a third-and-13 when Henderson flicked a short pass to Donte Ritchie, who took it 89 yards for a score. The two-point run failed, but Smyrna had its first lead of the night, 36-35, with 10:38 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles put up a little more defensive resistance, but Sallies still scored. The Sals faced fourth down on their next series, and on the second one Cannon fired a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ryan to send Salesianum back into the lead at 42-36.
But it only took Smyrna two plays to score again. Henderson shook loose on a keeper around the left side and went 68 yards. The two-point pass failed, leaving it tied at 42 with 5:24 left in the third quarter.
It remained tied for exactly 22 seconds. Reeder broke a 56-yard run on the Sals’ next play, then took it in from the 2 for a 49-42 Sallies lead.
Cathers recovered a fumble, but the Sals were stopped on downs at the Smyrna 15. It didn’t matter, as the Eagles were forced to punt for the first time and Salesianum finished its next drive with a 19-yard touchdown run by Mullin. The PAT attempt was blocked, leaving the Sals up 55-42 with 8:54 to play.
Down two scores, Smyrna was forced to go for it on fourth-and-15 from its own 21 and couldn’t convert. A holding penalty pushed Sallies back 10 yards, but Reeder rumbled in from the 31 on the next play for a 62-42 cushion with 5:59 remaining.
But the Eagles weren’t about to fold the tent. Ritchie took Henderson’s short pass 77 yards on Smyrna’s next play, and a two-point pass pulled the Eagles within 62-50.
Reeder, however, finally pushed the Sals to an insurmountable lead with a 37-yard run – his sixth touchdown of the night – to make it 69-50 with 3:52 left.
The Eagles had one more score left in the tank, as Henderson fired a 7-yarder to Bennett with 1:59 to go. But Reeder recovered an onside kick, then went 37 yards on the next play and capped it off with a 15-yard run for his seventh touchdown.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ