Here's a detailed report of Smyrna's 30-27 victory over Middletown in the Division I football state championship game Dec. 3 at the University of Delaware
Will Knight led the Smyrna High School football team in battling back from a 20-8 second-half deficit to defeat Middletown 30-27 in the Division I state championship game Dec. 2 at the University of Delaware.
The Cavaliers entered the game 11-0 as the tournament's number one seed, while the second-seeded Eagles were 9-2. Middletown had also beaten Smyrna in the season opener 35-28.
The championship game was more of a defensive struggle in the first half.
On the opening kickoff, the Middletown returner fumbled and Smyrna recovered at Middletown’s 49.
The Eagles drove right down the field on all running plays with Knight carrying for 37 of those yards including the two-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion.
With 9:08 left in the first quarter, the Eagles led 8-0.
Smyrna tried an onside kickoff, and the Cavaliers recovered at their own 41.
On third and one, Kedrick Whitehead carried for a first down to Smyrna’s 47.
Two plays later, on third and three, quarterback Drew Fry was sacked for a 10-yard loss by Smyrna’s Desmond Wilson.
Middletown punted and Smyrna took over on its own 23 with 5:43 left in the first quarter.
On first down, Knight ran for 20 yards.
On second down, Knight broke off another big run to Middletown’s 36, but he was hurt and walked to the sideline.
After quarterback Isaiah Wilson ran to the 33, Smyrna was called for penalties on consecutive plays for blocking below the waist, pushing the ball back to midfield.
Knight returned to the lineup, but Smyrna couldn’t pick up the first down on third and 28, and punted.
Middletown took over at its 20-yard line with 2:03 left in the first quarter.
The Cavs quickly faced third down and 12, but Fry ran a quarterback draw for a 13-yard gain.
The first quarter ended with Middletown facing another third down play.
As the second quarter started, Fry threw to Nick Johnston for a first down to the Middletown 43.
On second down, Fry passed to Ken Edelin to Smyrna 46 for a first down.
Fry rolled out to pass on the next play but was sacked by Smyrna’s Diron Accoo.
On third down and seven, Fry’s pass was incomplete and Middletown punted.
Smyrna took over on its own 20 with 9:18 left in the half.
On second down, after a completed pass, the Middletown defender knocked the ball out of the receiver’s hands, and Middletown’s Tamar Teagle recovered the fumble with 8:38 left in the half.
A holding call on second down moved the ball back to the Smyrna 41.
After two incomplete passes, Middletown had to punt.
Smyrna took over at its own 11 with 7:13 left to the half.
Middletown’s defense made three big stops, forcing Smyrna to punt.
The Cavs regained possession at Smyrna’s 48 with 4:43 left in the second quarter.
Fry ran for nine yards, then Smith picked up the first down, carrying the ball to the 34.
Fry passed to Johnston to the 16, but on third down, Fry was sacked by Smyrna’s Mike Carrow.
On fourth and 12, Fry passed to Johnston for the first down at the four-yard line.
On second and goal, Fry was sacked at the 17 by Jared Mullen.
With less than 30 seconds left in the second quarter, Fry dropped back to pass and connected with Edelin at the six-yard line.
On fourth and goal, Fry passed to Johnston who scored with six seconds left in the half. Kayla Bierlein kicked the extra point to pull the Cavs to within 8-7.
To open the third quarter, Middletown tried a squib kick and recovered the ball after it bounced off a Smyrna player.
The Cavs took over on Smyrna’s 42.
Fry threw to Edelin to the 37.
Whitehead ran for a gain of two.
On third and three, Fry had to throw the ball out of bounds under pressure from the Eagles.
On fourth down, Fry launched a pass to a diving Esaias Guthrie for a 35-yard touchdown. The extra point kick was no good, but Middletown led 13-8.
Smyrna received the squib kick and took over at its own 39.
Wilson faked the handoff and carried for 16 yards to Middletown’s 44.
Wilson ran again for a gain of four.
On second and six, Knight carried for a first down to the Cavs’ 34, but Knight was hurt on the play under a pile of tacklers. After attention from medical staff, he walked off the field.
After two runs by Stephen Whaley, on third and six, Knight returned to line up. Whaley carried the ball but was stopped by the Cavs.
On fourth and six, Wilson’s pass was incomplete, and Middletown took over at the 30-yard line with 6:38 left in the third quarter.
The Cavs quickly faced a third and seven, but Fry had to throw the ball away.
Middletown punted to Keshaun Tolbert who returned the ball to midfield, but a personal foul penalty moved the ball back to Smyrna’s 39.
On first down, Knight carried to the 44.
On second down, Smyrna fumbled the handoff. The ball popped into the air, and Middletown’s Jonathan Smith snagged it and raced 38 yards for a touchdown. Bierlein’s kick was good and Middletown extended its lead to 20-8.
After a short kickoff returned by Accoo, Smyrna took over on its own 47.
Knight ran for a first down to Middletown’s 41.
On the next play, Knight took the ball and threw to Whaley for 41-yard touchdown with 3:54 left in the third quarter. On the two-point conversion try, Jeff Lockwood tackled Knight to hold the score at 20-14.
Middletown's Najair Smith returned the kick to Middletown’s 21.
On first down, Fry passed to Edelin for an 18-yard gain.
From the 39, Fry ran to the 45.
On second down, Whitehead carried to the 48.
On third and one, Smith carried for the first down.
From Smyrna’s 49, Fry threw to Edelin for a gain of two and then Whitehead ran to the 45.
On third and six, Fry’s pass was incomplete.
Middletown punted and Smyrna’s Tolbert returned the ball from about the 20 to the 46.
On the final play of the third quarter, Knight carried to Middletown’s 47 to bring up a third and three.
At the start of the final quarter, Knight broke through the defense for the first down at the Cavs’ 40.
The Cavs held the Eagles in check the next three plays to bring up fourth and four from the 34, as the Eagles took a timeout with 10:15 left in the game.
Smyrna spread the field with Knight at the quarterback spot, but then Smyrna called another timeout.
On fourth and four, Knight was again at the quarterback spot and ran for a first down to the 28-yard line.
Whaley ran for five yards to the 25. Then Knight carried for a first down to the 18.
Knight was stopped for a one-yard gain by Joshua Freeman, and then the Cavs converged on Knight for just a three-yard pickup.
On third and six, the Cavs jumped offsides for a five-yard penalty.
On fourth and one from the nine-yard line, Knight followed his blockers and broke through the defense for a touchdown to tie the score at 20-20. Then Knight ran for the two-point conversion as the Eagles took a 22-20 lead with 7:35 left to play.
On the kickoff, Middletown fumbled the ball but recovered at the 11-yard line.
On first down with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter, Whitehead carried for a first down to the 22.
Then Fry passed to Guthrie to the 32.
After Whitehead ran for two yards, Fry passed to Guthrie for a first down to Middletown’s 45.
Then Whitehead broke off a nine-yard run, and on the next play Fry plunged ahead for the first down on Smyrna’s 44 with 4:59 left in the game.
On first down, Fry passed to Edelin who ran for a 15-yard gain.
From Smyrna’s 29-yard line, Accoo made a big stop on Whitehead for a loss of two.
As the clock ticked below four minutes, Fry scrambled for a gain of two.
On third and 10, Fry passed to Johnston for seven yards.
On fourth and three from the 22-yard line with 2:58 left to play, Fry ran but was stopped short of the first down after an initial hit by Darryl Williams and wrapped up by Smyrna’s Accoo and Caden Naylor.
The Eagles took over on their own 21, leading by two points.
Then lightning struck, as Knight burst through the defense and raced 79 yards for a touchdown for a 28-20 advantage with 2:38 left in the game. On the two-point try, Knight ran through a big hole in the Middletown defense and charged into the end zone for a 30-20 Smyrna lead.
After the kickoff, Middletown started its drive on its own 28.
Fry passed to Griffin to the 39 and out of bounds to stop the clock.
Griffin caught another pass for an eight-yard gain.
Then after two incompletions, on fourth and two, Fry threw to Johnston for a first down to the 48.
Two plays later, Smyrna was called for pass interference which moved the ball to Smyrna’s 35 with 1:33 to play.
After Griffin caught a pass for a short gain, Smyrna was called for a holding penalty, moving the ball to the 18.
Two plays later, Fry connected with Edelin for an 18-yard touchdown pass play with 1:12 to play to make the score 30-26. Bierlein’s kick was good to pull the Cavs to within 30-27.
Middletown tried an onside kickoff, but Tolbert cleanly caught the ball for the Eagles at Middletown’s 48-yard line.
Smyrna ran out the clock and the Eagles celebrated their third straight Division I state championship.