By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain jumped to a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter Friday, but Robbinsville came roaring back to stun the Mustangs 26-21 in the football season-opener at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field.
The 21-point lead is the largest SM has given up in school history.
Will Frady had a huge game for the Mustangs as he picked up 276 yards and scored two touchdowns while carrying a school-record 40 times.
Dustin Stephens gained 55 yards in seven attempts.
Caleb Lominac made his first start at quarterback and completed three of seven passes for 14 yards.
Robbinsville’s Rylee Anderson surpassed 4,000 rushing for his career as he picked up 95 yards in 20 carries.
Black Knight quarterback Nathan Collins completed nine of 15 passes for 92 yards and ran 37 yards for what proved to be the winning TD.
Clayson Lane caught three passes for 26 yards.
Collins scampered 37 yards down the right sideline on a fourth-and-2 for the game-winning touchdown with 9:07 left in the game. A conversion run failed leaving Robbinsville on top 26-21.
After being forced to punt, the Mustangs got a final shot at victory when Derrick Farmer recovered Lex Hooper’s fumble at the SM 43 with five minutes remaining.
Frady picked up 12, 11 and 10 yards on consecutive carries. His carry moments later resulted in a first-and-goal at the 6. Disaster struck on the next play when a fumbled snap caused a 10-yard loss. On fourth-and-goal, Lominac’s pass was incomplete allowing the Knights to run out the clock.
Robbinsville drove 60 yards in 11 plays following the second half kickoff. Anderson picked up 4 yards to convert a fourth-and-2 and also had an 11-yard run in the march, which included a 22-yard pass from Collins to Hooper. Anderson scored from the 2 with 6:29 left in the third period. A bad snap on the PAT kept the Mustangs on top 21-20.
SM dominated the first period with 164 of its 329 rushing yards.
The game started with a 63-yard drive in 14 plays. Lominac’s 11-yard pass to Danner Hill was followed by Frady scoring from a yard out. Hunter Pressley kicked the first of his three extra points for a 7-0 lead with 5:06 to go in the opening stanza.
Two plays after the kickoff, Parker Flynn recovered Anderson’s fumble at the Knight 40.
Frady gained 19 and 12 yards on back-to-back plays. Stephens took a pitch to the right side and scored from the 9 for a 14-0 advantage at the 3:59 mark.
On the first play after a punt, Frady broke loose on a 64-yard run to the 10. He scored from the 4 two plays later extending the margin to 21-0 with 58.6 seconds on the clock.
Robbinsville got on the board with a 53-yard drive in 10 plays. Collins completed passes of 12 and 10 yards to Lane and 10 yards to Seth Lawson. Anderson had an 11-yard run early in the march and capped it by scoring from the 1. Cody Cline kicked the first of his two extra points narrowing the deficit to 21-7 with 8:25 left in the half.
The Knights went to the locker room with momentum as a 17-yard pass from Cline to Kamron McGuire brought them within 21-14 with 31.1 seconds on the clock. The 58-yard drive, which took eight plays and was aided by a penalty, started when McGuire recovered Frady’s fumble at the 42. The key play came on fourth-and-5 when Collins was about to be sacked but managed to get rid of the ball just in time for a 12-yard completion to Anderson.
The Mustangs had scoring opportunities thwarted by penalties all night. They were flagged nine times for 105 yards.