By Carey Phillips
Isaiah McNeely scored on a 59-yard run on the game’s first play Friday, and Smoky Mountain went on to a 35-12 non-conference football victory over Roberson at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field.
McNeely carried 20 times for 176 yards and three touchdowns.
Jed West completed 13 of 16 passes for 171 yards and a score. The TD pass went to Darien Bird, who had nine receptions for 120 yards.
Quarterback Kam White led the Rams with 120 rushing yards in 18 attempts. Devon Hollis carried 17 times for 77 yards.
Zeke Sink kicked the first of his five extra points after McNeely’s opening TD for a 7-0 lead 15 seconds into the game.
The Mustangs (2-1) forced a three-and-out then marched 73 yards in 12 plays. The highlight was a 42-yard pass from West to Bird. McNeely had a 12-yard run in the march, which ended with West scoring from a yard out for a 14-0 margin with 3:51 to play in the first quarter.
Roberson kept the ball for 14 plays before White fumbled with Colin Crowe recovering at the 9.
The ensuing 10-play drive was aided by three penalties, including a 15-yarder. The key play was a 40-yard pass from West to Brylen Conlin. McNeely scored on a 4-yard run on the next play making it 21-0 with 5:37 to go in the half.
Roberson cut the gap to 21-6 on White’s 17-yard run with 1:51 on the clock. A conversion run was no good. The seven-play, 76-yard drive was helped by a penalty. It included a 14-yard run by White and his 19-yard pass to Reno Jeter for the Rams’ only completion of the night.
Roberson was forced to punt to start the second half but got a break when Brett Richmond fumbled the kick and Khalil Chung recovered at the SM 31.
Hollis scored on a 3-yard run five plays later bringing the Rams within 21-12 with 6:54 left in the third period. A conversion run was again no good.
The Mustangs drove to the 23 following the kickoff before being stopped on downs.
They got the ball back after a punt and needed just two plays to score as McNeely ripped off a 53-yard TD for a 28-12 lead with 10:44 remaining in the game. Four plays after the kickoff, Jeter fumbled with Jay Lacy recovering at the Roberson 47.
Bird caught a 42-yard pass from West on the next play. After a loss two plays later, the pair connected again on an 11-yard TD pass to account for the 35-12 final at the 6:40 mark.
18 First Downs 13
51-228 Rushes-Yds. 26-181
1-3-0 Passing 13-16-0
19 Passing Yds. 171
3-2 Fumbles-Lost 2-1
Roberson 0 6 6 0 12
SM 14 7 0 14 35