SMYRNA — Whatever Smyrna coach Matt Williams said at halftime must have worked.
Freshman Blake Watkins’ 94-yard kickoff return touchdown at the start of the third quarter certainly helped, too.
Boosted by that game-changing play and a huge third quarter, the Bulldogs overcame a 12-0 first-half deficit, seized the momentum and held off No. 8-ranked Cookeville 28-20.
Williams called Watkins’ return “a huge play,” and added, “I talked about coming out and putting points on the board and making it 14-12. We just got lucky to do it on the first play of the second half.”
The win kept the Bulldogs (6-2, 4-1 Region 2-6A) in the mix for the region title, as they still have a trip to Riverdale next Friday followed by a home game against region leader Oakland.
Smyrna’s Casey Perkins rushed 17 times for 140 yards and a score, while Dagan Fultz added four carries for 55 yards and two touchdowns. Ikenna Okeke caught four passes for 71 yards and also picked off a pass on defense.
After claiming the lead in the third quarter, Smyrna quickly took advantage of a Cookeville fumble that was recovered by Austin Brown. The Bulldogs got the ball at their own 22, and Perkins immediately reeled off a 76-yard run to the Cookeville 2.
Two plays later, Fultz punched in a 2-yard run for a 21-12 lead.
Perkins made it 28-12 with a 1-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter.