By Michael Held
Special to the Johnstonian News
WENDELL — A pair of first-half miscues and another tough third quarter proved to be too much for the Smithfield-Selma football team to overcome Friday night as the Spartans fell to Corinth Holders 34-7.
Two second-quarter turnovers led to short fields for the Pirates offense and Corinth Holders capitalized with a pair of rushing touchdowns. Sean Fields went in from 14 yards out for the game’s first score before Kambron Whitaker’s powerful six-yard burst gave the hosts a 13-0 lead heading into halftime.
The Pirates (2-2) then scored on their first two possessions in the third quarter to take complete control of the game, something which has become all too frequent an occurrence for the Spartans (0-4) this season.
“It’s the third quarter,” Smithfield-Selma coach Mike Parrish admitted. “If we get that third quarter figured out, I think we can surprise some people.”
For the most part this season, Smithfield-Selma has been able to stay close for two quarters of play before running out of gas in the second half. A lot of that can be attributed to the lack of numbers for the Spartans as the varsity team has around 26 players and opposing teams often have twice that amount on the other side of the field.
Against the Pirates, those 26 players showed no quit after falling behind 27-0 midway through the third quarter.
Defensively, John Chopski came up with several big tackles on the night and was joined by teammates Kishawn Bobbitt, Savion Brown-George and Devante Whaley, among others, for a solid showing.
Starting late in the third quarter, Deron George led the Spartans deep into Pirates territory with three rushes for 16 yards and a 19-yard completion to Raekwon Barnes. The drive was capped off at the beginning of the fourth period when Bobbitt took the snap, rolled out to his right and found a wide-open Jones in the end zone.
Parrish liked the resilience and heart his team showed, especially in the second half after falling behind.
“Our offense is finally coming around and we’re just kind of bonding better,” said Parrish. “In the past, SSS would give up and quit. We’re not quitting anymore. They’re finally getting to that point where we’re not quitting anymore. If I could just get some numbers, we’re going to be fine.”
It was a solid start for the Spartans in the first quarter as the defense forced a three-and-out on the Pirates’ first possession and then forced a turnover on downs as Smithfield-Selma’s defensive line stuffed Cade Sakowski on fourth-and-one.
The Spartans threatened to put points on the scoreboard first thanks to a nine-play drive fueled by the running game finding success up the gut with Terry Frazier, D.B. Jones and Brandon Perry carrying the ball. After Smithfield-Selma came up short on third down, Jesse Vallecio-Lopez was called upon for a 45-yard field goal that came up just short.
Deron George led the Spartans with 28 yards rushing. Avant Durham toted the ball five times for 24 yards and Terry carried the ball seven times for 21 yards.
Smithfield-Selma hosts 0-4 Harnett Central this Friday night, weather permitting.