- Mistakes continued to hamper Smithfield-Selma Friday night, as the Spartans wrapped up non-conference action with a 42-0 loss at the hands of Northern Nash.
The Spartans of the Two Rivers 3A Conference, dipped to 1-5 for the season after struggling with special teams and an opportunistic, rugged Northern Nash squad.
Spearheading the Knights were a pair of kick returns by senior wide receiver Tyrees Wiggins.
Wiggins opened the game by returning the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown, then ended the night’s scoring late in the third period, returning a Spartans punt 80 yards for a score.
“The opening kickoff, it (ball) wasn’t where we were supposed to kick it,” said Spartans coach David Lawhon.
Those scampers were complimented by the opportunistic Knights, who recovered one Spartans fumble for a touchdown, while taking advantage of excellent field position on SMithfield-Selma’s side of the 50 following short punts.
The fumble recovery of the fumble for the touchdown gave the Knights a 21-0 first period lead,.
It came when the snap from center sailed over quarterback Reaquan Smith’s head and into the end one, where Gus Huddleston beat Smith to the ball in front of the end line
“They (Knights) are a good football team,” said Lawhon. “They are a power football team. We knew they were going to come at us hard.”
The Knights defense came especially hard at the Spartans, who managed 41 yards of total offense - including a minus-11 yards on the ground.
Several big plays by the Spartans were negated by penalties, and Smithfield-Selma managed to cross midfield once.
That occurrence came in the waning minutes of the first half, when the Spartans drove from their own 26 yard-line to the Knights 22, only be stopped on back-to-back sacks.
Chris Turnage and De’Quan White provided consecutive 11-yard runs on that drive, and a 22-yard hookup from Robert Hicks to Javon Lee put the Spartans in the red zone.
Northern Nash, while not proficient at moving the ball, did enough behind a balanced attack, led by Quan Whitakers, who amassed 45 yards on 13 carries.
Northern rushed for 130 yards while completing only one pass for eight.
Despite the second straight drubbing at the hands of a Big East opponent (the Spartans fell 52-10 to Seventh-ranked Fike 52-10 a week ago), Lawhon said his players remain upbeat about the upcoming conference slate.
“They are resilient,” Lawhon said of the Spartans. “They work hard, and they are hoping things will change for them. We try to tell them hard work is what it will take, and what we have to do - so they keep plugging at it and come back to practice every Monday.”