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Friday, May 6, 2016

Smith in a rush for Pirates

Thursday, November 13, 2008

PASSING BY: Highland closed its 2008 football season with a 56-21 loss to the state playoff-bound Gosnell Pirates. Photo/Sparks
Sometimes when your team is losing, a fan takes a moment to look at an opposing player with amazement.

Gosnell halfback Javon Smith is that player.

Although the Rebel defense stopped him on a number of plays, when he got loose he was hard to catch.

Smith finished the night with 285 yards on 19 rushes and three touchdowns to carry the Pirates to a 56-21 win over Highland (0-10) at Gosnell on Nov. 7.

"For a half, we fought with them pretty good and held them in check a little bit. They just wore us down," said Rebel Head Coach Clay Wiggins. "They just kept giving it to the number 3 (Smith). He's pretty good, because we didn't tackle him very well. He's a good back and I'm glad he's a senior."

Gosnell did a good job of stopping the Rebel rushers, so Wiggins turned to the passing game to gain yards.

Highland had 28 runs and 36 passes, including at least 13 quick passes to the sideline.

"We were going to hit that quick pass. We were going to hit it and hit it and hit it. We were making yards with it," said Wiggins. "Then when I thought they were going to sneak up a little bit, we tried to throw it over them. We just didn't feel like we could run right at their defense unless we loosened it up a little bit."

Down 14-0, Highland turned the tables on the Pirates.

Blake Martin and Scott Gatewood picked up 17 yards on the ground. Quarterback Cannon Davis hit Eric Roberts, who spun away from the defender and sprinted 54 yards for a touchdown.

It was looking good for Highland when on the first play of the next series, Pirate quarterback Isiah Love tried to go for the jugular by hitting the deep pass to Smith. Defensive back Caleb Davidson came up with the ball to stop the drive, but the Rebels would be forced to punt four plays later.

Gosnell's turnover bug didn't stop there.

Fullback Cordarrel Bell coughed up the ball to Roberts at the Rebel 15.

The Reb offense put together their longest drive of the season -- 18 plays for 79 yards.

The drive was kept alive when the punt team tricked the Pirates into jumping offsides for the first down. Highland came up short when Davis was sacked at the 6-yard line on fourth down.

The Rebel defense stopped Gosnell late in the second quarter and the snap for the punt went over William Morris' head. He got the punt off in the end zone, but Vinnie Roberto recovered the ball at the Pirate 7 with seconds left in the half.

Davis rolled to his right and zipped a ball through the defender into Roberts hands to close the gap to 21-14.

In the first half, Gosnell had nine penalties for 60 yards, one interception, one fumble and a bad snap on the punt.

Highland had two interceptions, a busted punt, a fumble and one penalty for 15 yards. The Rebels were holding their own. The second half would be very different.

The Pirates scored five times in the second half, including a Kalen Leaks interception for a touchdown.

Highland had the last drive of the night and for the year. They made the most of it.

Roberto found seven yards up the middle. Davis hit Skylar Johnson to the right and Davidson to the left for three-yards apiece.

A holding penalty took 10 yards away from the Rebels, but Adam Sanders made a catch he'll talk about for years. Davis threw the ball to the outstretched hands of the little-used senior receiver for a 42-yard gain.

Another holding penalty pushed the Reb offense back to the Gosnell 35. Davidson took the Davis pass to the 3, before Davis ended his high school career the perfect way -- by diving into the end zone.

Jeffrey Tate made all of his PATs on the night.

Roberts and Brandon Sharp led the defense with seven tackles. Matt Schneider had four.

Sharp carried the ball 12 times for 26 yards. Martin, before leaving the game with an injury, had 13 yards on five carries. Davidson caught nine balls for 107 yards. Roberts had 69 yards from four receptions. Davis was 22-of-36 for 238 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Looking back at the winless season, the question will remain, should the Rebels have changed over to the spread offense instead of keeping with the running Rebel tradition.

With a big quarterback, a talented receiving corps and an inexperienced offensive line, the spread seemed liked the right idea at the time.

After all, other teams have had so much success against Highland with it.

"We talk about it every day. We talk about it every night. I don't know that our kids might be better suited to line up in that I (formation) and trying to run. It makes it a little bit easier on our blocking," explained Wiggins. "We're not sure what we're going to do next year. It's a daily conversation. A weekly conversation. Maybe our kids just seem more comfortable with what we've always done."

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