Smyrna headed back to state title game

 

Will Knight of Smyrna is stopped after a short gain against Hodgson. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

SMYRNA — Will Knight made history the only way he knows how.

Needing 15 yards for the state rushing record, Knight broke off a 46-yard touchdown run.

It highlighted another special day for the Smyrna High senior star as the Eagles defeated Hodgson Vo-Tech Academy 48-8 in the DIAA Division I football state tournament semifinals on Saturday night. Smyrna reached the state title game for the third year in a row.

The two-time defending champions will take on top-seeded Middletown for the championship at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 at Delaware Stadium in Newark.

While there was little doubt over the result in the second half, there was plenty of drama as Knight inched closer and closer to the state record. He did it with eight minutes left in the contest.

He finished with 154 yards on 12 carries and three touchdowns. He now has more career rushing yards than anyone in Delaware high school football history, bettering the previous mark of 6,201, set by Laurel High’s Chris Jones in 2011.

“I give it all to my receiving core, my offensive line and my quarterback, I wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” Knight said. “They put their blood, sweat and tears onto the field for me to accomplish a goal. I don’t want it for myself, I want it for them. They put the hard work in with me so they deserve it as well.”

“It’s four years of teammates working their tails off for him and it’s reciprocal,” said Smyrna coach Mike Judy. “He works his tail off every single day for his brothers. It’s just an amazing feeling. I feel blessed to have even been around that kid as long as I have.”

While Smyrna ended the game with a 40-point margin of victory, Hodgson was 12 yards away from scoring its second touchdown and possibly tying the game in the second quarter.

Hunter Moyer backed the Silver Eagles up with a sack on third down. He then followed that up with a strip sack on fourth down and Caden Naylor pounced on the loose ball to recover for Smyrna.

The Eagles had 3:42 left on the clock to score before halftime and marched down the field in less than three minutes. Knight capped off a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a five-yard score and a two-point conversion to extend the Smyrna lead to 24-8.

Smyrna lineman Saleem Wormly (77) stays with his block on Hodgson’s JJalik Heyward to give quarterback Isaiah Wilson time to look for an open receiver in the first quarter Saturday night. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Smyrna then held Hodgson scoreless in the second half.

“Our mentality is just foot on the gas no matter what time in the game it is,” said Moyer who had four sacks. “If a big play happens, we feed off that and take advantage. We knew before we could even think of next week we had had to finish the second half strong,”

The Eagles forced five turnovers. Mikey Carrow and Naylor had fumble recoveries while Larsen Wilson, Jeremy D-Aguiar and Naylor recorded interceptions.

Isaiah Wilson threw for a pair of touchdowns on Smyrna’s first two scores. The first was 40 yards to Emon Roberts before a 12-yard lob to Stephen Whaley.

Whaley added an 11-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Smyrna seniors have been in the state championship for three seasons in a row, but they know not to take the opportunity for granted. It was just four years ago in 2013 when Smyrna went 2-8.

“This is just as special as it was in 2015 for me,” Moyer said. “It’s the most important day of the year. I love it. Even though we’ve been here before, it’s still shocking to me. I’m taking it all in right now.”

It’s Wilson’s first state title matchup though. He transferred from Glasgow to Smyrna for his senior season.

The senior quarterback threw for 191 yards on Saturday.

“I’m new to this program but they’ve got everything handled,” he said about his teammates. “I know I can depend on everybody on this team, including the coaches as well.

It sets up a rematch of the 2016 title game where Smyrna defeated Middletown. The two teams also renewed their annual Harvest Bowl rivalry this year in the first week of the season.

Middletown won that contest 35-28.

“The first time we played them, that was my first game as an Eagle,” Wilson said. “I played hard but I was trying to get used to the offense. Now I think I’ve got everything down pat.”

“We’re going to be prepared,” Judy said. “We’re going to have a good week of practice. We’re going to get after it. It should be a good one.”

 

 

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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