Cavalier football fans had plenty to ring their cowbells about tonight as Middletown jumped out to a 14-0 lead, extended it to 35-14 at the half and cruised to a 41-20 victory at Smyrna. See the story, photos and video.
The 2018 football season kicked off tonight with a battle between the two teams that have faced each other in the Division I state title game the past two seasons: Middletown and Smyrna.
While the Eagles prevailed in those title games, tonight was a display of dominance by the Cavaliers in a 41-20 victory on the road.
After the Eagles returned the opening kickoff to their 37-yard line, Middletown's defense forced a fumble, recovered by Ryan Fields on the 31.
On the next play, Middletown's Najair Smith took the hand-off and raced 31 yards to the end zone. The extra point kick by Kayla Bierlein was good, and the Cavaliers led 7-0 just 21 seconds into the game.
On Smyrna's next series, Middletown forced a punt, and the Cavaliers took over on offense with 7:52 left in the first quarter.
After an incomplete pass, Smith took the hand-off and burst through Smyrna's defense again, this time for a 75-yard touchdown. Bierlein's kick was good, and the Cavs led a stunned Eagles team 14-0.
Back on offense, the Eagles turned to the power running game with a tight formation and bulled their way down the field on a 12-play drive, capped by a one-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion run was good as Smyrna cut the Cavs' lead to 14-8 with 2:29 left in the first quarter.
Smyrna's defense forced Middletown to punt on its next possession, and then the Cavs returned the favor, holding the Eagles on a fourth-and-one play near midfield.
Middletown took over on offense just as the first quarter ended.
In the second quarter, the Cavaliers drove down to Smyrna's one-yard line, but the Eagles' defense held on fourth down.
Then the Cavs flexed their muscles on defense, tackling the Smyrna runner in the end zone for a safety and a 16-8 lead.
After the safety, Middletown's offense struck quickly with a four-play drive, capped by a 12-yard touchdown run by Smith with 6:35 left in the half. The extra point was no good, but the Cavs led 22-8.
Smyrna responded with a 66-yard, eight-play drive, finishing with a 27-yard scoring pass. The two-point conversion failed, but Middletown's advantage was cut to 22-14 with 3:44 to play in the second quarter.
When the Cavs went on offense, an incomplete pass resulted in a huge gain anyway because Smyrna was called for pass interference and an additional 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
On first down from Smyrna's 27, Middletown quarterback Drew Fry rolled out and threw a pass to the corner of the end zone that was caught by Esaias Guthrie for a touchdown and a 28-14 lead with 3:20 left in the half.
Then the Cavs' defense rose to the occasion again, as Nick Johnston intercepted a pass to stop the Eagles.
On offense, Fry and Guthrie hooked up on three big pass plays, moving the ball to Smyrna's two-yard line. Then Fry ran the ball in for a touchdown with 50 seconds left in the half. Bierlein's kick was good, and Middletown took a 35-14 lead into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Smyrna's defense forced a three-and-out as the Cavs punted.
The Eagles mounted a drive into Middletown territory, but the Cavs snuffed it out on an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-four play at the 21-yard line.
When the Cavs took over, Fry threw a pass to Tamar Teagle who raced to Smyrna's 19. On the next play, Fry threw a touchdown pass to Guthrie for a 41-14 lead with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
The Cavs cruised from there and won, 41-20, to start the season 1-0.
NEXT GAME: Friday, Sept. 14 at home, Cavalier Stadium, vs. William Penn, 7:30 p.m.