By Terry Collins
CARTHAGE — The Smith Co. High Owls football team had their toughest test of the season last Friday night at Owls Stadium in Carthage.
Smith Co. faced off against the state’s second-ranked team in Class 4A — the 6-0 Upperman Bees.
The two teams, for years long-time region foes, had not met since 2020 as they had split their previous ten matchups.
The Bees used a smothering defense to post a 14-0 victory to improve to 7-0.
Smith Co., coming off a huge Region 3-2A win at East Robertson, was ranked seventh in the latest Class 2A state poll.
The hosts had only 54 yards in the game and four first downs as they had only two drives in Bees territory and never advanced past the Upperman 35 yard line.
The visitors were led by Ethan Palk with 24 rushes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Bronzden Chaffin had 123 passing yards and a score along with 73 rushing yards.
Kam Bush led the Bees’ receiving corps with four grabs for 52 yards and a score.
Smith Co., who dropped to 5-2 overall, was led by Kylan Johnson with 15 carries for 34 yards while Wyatt Claywell had two catches for 18 yards.
The Owls defense battled the entire game and did not yield a point in the second half as Peyton Hix and Johnson each came up with an interception.
Hix had a tremendous night punting the football as he had seven boots for a 44.14 yard average.
The Bees controlled the clock with over 30 minutes of time of possession in the contest.
“I’m proud of the effort our players and coaches gave in this game,” stated Owls head coach Matt Dyer. “Hats off to Upperman and Coach Caine and his staff. Upperman is a dang good 4A football team and will end up being the best team we play all year. They are big, physical and well-coached.”
“Our guys played hard all night and gave all they had to give,” continued Dyer. “They played their guts out and I’m proud of that effort. Even though we didn’t win the game, this game made us better. Playing teams like that is what gets you ready for the playoffs. Our defense played very well and made a lot of big plays and kept us in the game.”
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