By Terry Collins
CROSS PLAINS — Last Friday night in Cross Plains, the stage was set for what many observers thought would be a matchup for the Region 3-2A championship.
Host East Robertson had started the season 5-0 while the Owls of Smith Co. High were 4-1 heading into the first-ever matchup between the two schools on the gridiron.
Smith Co.’s defense created four turnovers which proved to be a huge factor in Smith Co.’s 14-7 victory to knock the Indians from the unbeaten ranks.
The Black-and-Gold improved to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in region play while the Indians dropped to 5-1 and 1-1 in the region.
Interceptions by Clayton Rigsby, Key Harris and Peyton Hix stopped Indian drives while the biggest turnover the night set up the game-deciding score.
The Indians’ Isaiah Groves, who had 30 rushes for 145 yards in the game, was stripped of the football by Owls’ lineman Ty Martin with the fumble recovered by Jay Phillips with 1:44 to play in the game and the score tied 7-7.
The Owls took only one play to grab the lead for good as Riley Martin hit Key Harris on a 21-yard touchdown strike with 1:36 to play in the game.
Javier Gaspar’s PAT kick gave the visitors a 14-7 lead.
East Robertson drove to the Owls’ 32 yard line before Hix dashed the hosts’ hopes with an interception with 0:18 left which allowed Smith Co. to run out the clock and preserve the win.
“I’m extremely proud of our players and staff!” stated Owls head coach Matt Dyer. “This was a huge win for this team and program. Every player and coach who stepped foot on that field contributed and gave everything they had and left nothing on the field. This win puts us in the driver seat for a region championship, but we still have to show up to work and compete every week from here on out.”
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