by Rusty Ellis
The Smith County Owls battled for 48 minutes on Friday, but fell short 40-27 to the East Nashville Eagles in a rematch of the Region Championship just a few weeks ago.
The game started off in the Owls’ favor, as the Eagles fumbled the opening kick-off away to give Smith County prime field position. Freshman quarterback Kaden Powell closed the drive with a touchdown run to open the scoring at 7-0 in favor of the Owls.
East Nashville responded with 18 unanswered points of their own to take an 11-point lead, but Smith County wouldn’t go away just yet. Powell added another touchdown on the ground to cut the deficit down to just 18-13.
It wouldn’t take long for the Eagles to respond though, as East’s Zack Beard found Frank Gordon for a touchdown to give the visitors a 25-13 lead going into the break.
Powell scored his third touchdown of the game to open the third, as he scored from a yard out to cut that lead back down to a one-score game. Just as they did all night however, the Eagles responded with a big play from Trey Joyner, who caught a ball that was batted up in the air and took it 56 yards to the end zone to make the score 32-20.
Holy cow. Trey Joyner comes up with a batted ball and takes it 56 yards to the house.
East 32 pic.twitter.com/0G2mSMumpg
— Rusty Ellis (@RustyEllis_) November 19, 2022
Powell answered with a 70-yard touchdown run of his own to cut the lead back down to 32-27, but that was the closest the Owls would get in the 13-point defeat.
Though his team didn’t achieve the ultimate goal of making it to Chattanooga, head coach Matt Dyer said there was plenty for his team to be proud of.
“These guys have fought all year long, that’s just what they are,” Dyer said. “They’re a bunch fighters and savages. The ball didn’t bounce our way tonight, but these dudes have nothing to hang their heads about…I love these guys, they’re a good football team.”
Every time East Nashville appeared to take control of the game, Smith County bounced back and got right back into the game. It didn’t result in a win, but Dyer was more proud of the fact that his team didn’t quit.
“East battled just as much as we did,” Dyer said. “We tried to get the momentum swinging with an onside kick and then the long run, but we just didn’t make plays when we needed to and they did. That’s the difference in the ball game.”
It’s the last time this senior class will play football together as a unit, and Dyer hopes that everyone in Carthage appreciates the hard work this group has put in.
“This group set the standard for Smith County High School football,” Dyer said. “I’m just so proud of them because they are a bunch of fighters. I’d dig into a foxhole for these guys any day of the week…they’re going to do great things past football. It all stems from the relationships they’ve formed on the football field.”
Smith County ends the season with an 11-2 overall record.