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Sherwood High School's Fernando Smith was well on his way to putting his team up by two touchdowns during the second quarter of Friday's football game against 4A East Division rival Springbrook.
Breaking up the middle of the Blue Devils' defense, the senior running back was a yard away from scoring six points for the second time Friday. However, Springbrook defensive back Tayvon Ross stripped the ball away and fell on it in the end zone with 1 minute and19 seconds left in the half. The play kept the divisional rivals close in a defensive battle that had no second-half scoring.
The Warriors' defense posted a second-half shutout to hold on to a 14-6 mud-ridden homecoming win.
"[The fumble] took away a lot of momentum actually," said Smith, who finished the game with 92 yards rushing on 15 carries. "I thought I was in [the end zone], a lot of people thought I was in, but it is what it is."
Said Warriors coach Mike Bonavia, "at 21-6, I don't know what would happen from there, but 21-6 would be a lot more comfortable [than 14-6]. We would have been able to play defense differently, we'd be able to do more things overall, it would have been a big difference."
Smith did give Sherwood (5-2 overall, 3-0 division) the initial burst it would need early on in the contest, breaking off tackle down the left sideline on the Warriors' first play from scrimmage for a 44-yard score with 9:15 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
The Blue Devils (4-3, 1-2) struck back with 8:43 left in the second quarter, as Ross took a pitch from senior quarterback Brion "Mike-Mike" Robinson and sprinted past the defense down the left sideline for a 77-yard score. Kicker Khalil Smith hooked the extra point attempt to make the game 7-6.
"We totally respected [Springbrook] knowing what we had to get done, Bonavia said. "We had a good pregame [warm-up], and told them it was one of the better pre-games we've had this year. But no, the point was made [prior to the game] about how good these guys were and what we had to do."
The Warriors took an eight-point lead on an 8-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jordan Larsen to classmate Daniel Kapapula with 4:43 remaining in the first half. The score came just two plays after junior defensive lineman Nick DeMarco pounced on a fumble at the Springbrook 10.
"Our front seven was pretty stingy," Bonavia said. "We swarmed to the football, we contained their quarterback pretty well. We watched his games and we realized that he liked to do some isolations and come off the edge and get outside and roll out, and when he rolled out, there were a lot of people putting pressure on him. Our secondary doesn't give up a lot of stuff deep, but I think that is because our front seven does such a nice job."
Robinson, who is a threat running and passing, was held in check. Despite rushing for 63 yards on 15 attempts in the first half, he finished with 59 yards on 20 attempts, as he was thrown for losses several times by the Sherwood defense. In the air, he completed just two of 11 passes for 15 yards and an interception.
Sherwood 14, Springbrook 6
Springbrook (4-3, 1-2) 0 6 0 0 — 6
Sherwood (5-2, 3-0) 7 7 0 0 — 14
SH — Smith 44 run (Ryder kick)
SP — Ross 77 run (kick failed)
SH — Kapapula 8 pass from Larsen (Ryder kick)
RUSHING — SP: Robinson 20-59, Anthony 6-14; SH: Smith 15-92, Mofor 4-16
PASSING — SP: Robinson 2-11 15-1; SH: Larsen 3-10 42-0
RECEIVING — SP: Eisendorf 2-11; SH: Jallow 1-35, Kapapula 1-8, Williams 1- minus.