Smithville topples Savannah again

By SJ Munoz PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 25, 2014 - 12:40 AM

No matter what a game Savannah bunch threw at Smithville, the Warriors had an answer, and a big answer at that, as they beat Savannah 49-21 in the first round of Class 4 District 8 tournament as postseason play began on the Missouri side.

In the first half, Savannah was effective in slowing the Warrior attack in terms of long, sustained Warrior drives. Even still, big plays abounded for the home team as they used those plays to build a significant first-half lead.

"We played a very good quality opponent in Savannah," Smithville head coach Greg Smith said. "They took us out of what we wanted to do and we had to beat them another way. We were able to make some big plays in the passing game and I think that was key."

The Savages took the opening drive 80 yards for the game's first score to lead 7-0 with 6:25 to go in the first on a two-yard TD plunge by Taylor Gilbert.

The lead didn't last long as nine seconds and one Smithville offensive snap later it was 7-7 as Warrior quarterback Mitch Orr connected with Tanner Hartman on a 65-yard pass.

On the Warriors next possession they faced a 3rd-and-13, but came up with a 58-yard end around by Josh Lizar to take the 14-7 lead at the

3:14 mark of the first.

Savannah appeared to have possibly weathered the early storm as they remained within seven deep into the second quarter.

And the Savages even came up with a big fourth-down stop at their own 15 after a fumble recovery by the Warriors deep in the visitors' territory.

Yet, it was a 28 second stretch late in the half which allowed Smithville to create an edge Savannah could never overcome.

The onslaught began with an interception by Hartman at 3:59 of the quarter which he returned to the Savannah two. On the very next play, Charlie Nihart punched it in from two yards out and the lead was 14 for the Warriors with 3:53 to go in the half. On Savannah's first snap of the next series, the Savages fumbled and Smithville recovered. It took only one play for the Warriors to cash in again as Orr threw the TD pass to Quintin Mueller. A bobbled snap on the PAT was run in by the Warriors and it was 29-7 with 3:21 to go in the second, which would be the score at the half.

"Getting those turnovers was the key to the game," Smith said. "The turnovers were really the turning point in the game and the tide turned when we were able to get them and score back-to-back. It was huge to take the momentum like that. At that point you could see the game going either way."

And just when Savannah worked their way back within two scores (36-21) after two third quarter touchdowns sandwhiched around a Smithville TD, the Warriors found the key plays they needed once more.

Smithville erased any doubt over the final 12 minutes with Nihart's third TD with 8:47 to play (42-21) and a 9-yard TD pass from Orr to Lizar that made it a 28-point lead with under five minutes to go.

Nihart, who set a new school record for yardage in a season, again paced the Warriors' ground attack with 145 yards and three scores on

19 carries. Orr threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns as Smithville totaled nearly 400 yards on offense.

Defensively, the Warriors forced four turnovers led by Hartman's two picks.

"We have a special group of kids," Smith said. "They play with a unity that is pretty special. I'm proud of them and thrilled they can enjoy this success."

Gilbert ran for 104 yards and one TD, while Clayton McGinness was

12-20 for 149 yards with one score and two interception for Savannah, who ends the season at 6-4.

Smithville improves to 8-2 and will play Platte County (9-1) next week.