By Chad Dixon
This season was deemed a “rebuilding” season for the Smiths Station Panthers (3-1, 1-1). On Sept. 14, the Panthers picked up their first region win in nearly two years with a 22-16 victory on the road against the Enterprise Wildcats (2-2, 1-1).
“We’re headed in the right direction. Everyone in the community came out and supported us and that means a lot. We are doing some amazing things from where we started. Starting out 3-1 is unbelievable coming from where we were,” said Smiths Station Head Coach Mike Glisson.
The Wildcats struck first on Friday evening completing an 81-yard, three-and-a-half minute touchdown drive. Sophomore running back Joshua McCray scored a rushing touchdown from the three-yard line to give Enterprise a 6-0 lead early. The kick was missed by Hunter Perry.
Smiths Station responded with a 75-yard drive of its own. Junior running back L.C. Harris rushed for 59 yards on six carries in the Panthers’ first possession. He reached the end zone from eight-yards out with 5:01 left in the first quarter. The Panthers connected with their PAT and took a 7-6 lead.
Enterprise would re-take the lead midway through the second quarter. McCrary scored from the one-yard line with 6:14 remaining in the quarter. Wildcats’ quarterback Grant Thornton was 4-for-4 on the drive with 55 passing yards. He would finish up the game going 20-for-30 with 240 passing yards.
The Panthers ground game would dominate the rest of the second quarter. Harris began the drive with six- and 12-yard runs. Minton connected with Carter Duke for eight yards to move the ball to midfield. Later in the drive, Minton completed 14-yard pass to Logan Hollaway and find D.J. Moffett for 19 yards to spot the ball on the Enterprise 27-yard line. Two plays later, Harris broke for 24 yards to the end zone for the second Smiths Station touchdown with 36 seconds left in the half. The Panthers closed the half with a 14-13 advantage.
Enterprise took a 16-14 lead in the third with a 33-yard field goal by Perry with 6:07 remaining in the quarter. Smiths Station held the Wildcats to on 20 yards in the quarter outside of the field goal.
“I have to give credit to our defensive staff. They really some adjustments at the half and put us in position to pick up a win,” Glisson added.
The Panthers finished the third quarter with great field position. They started from the Wildcats’ 47-yard line with 1:57 remaining. Forty-five seconds into the fourth quarter, Moffett rushed for an 8-yard touchdown. Minton completed the two-point conversion to Payton Wiggins to give Smiths Station a 22-16 lead that it did not relinquish.
Moffett came up with a pair of huge defensive stops later in the quarter. He took advantage of a bad snap as Enterprise set up in their Wildcat formation on second down for a loss of 17 yards with 9:07 remaining. On the final play of the game, Moffett sacked Thornton for a loss of five yards to end the game.
The Panthers outgained the Wildcats 333 total yards to 252. Minton was 9-for-13 with 95 passing yards. Harris led the Panthers with 122 rushing yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns. Moffett also had a touchdown. He gained 78 yards on the ground on 12 carries. The Panthers outgained the Wildcats on first downs 28-11.
In a rare Saturday game for Smiths Station, they will travel to Montgomery, Ala. to play the Robert E. Lee Generals on Sept. 22. Kick-off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET. The Generals are coming off of a heartbreaking 21-17 loss to the Auburn Tigers last Thursday.