SMITHFIELD — Senior Night at Smithfield High featured an array of hard hits and big plays. Seniors provided many of them as the Packers pulled away from York quickly on their way to a 42-0 victory in Bay Rivers District action on Friday at Smithfield.
The victory means the Packers seniors might return home one more time, for the first round of the 4A East Region/Conferences 17-18 playoffs. To do that the Packers (7-2, 7-1) will have to beat Grafton (8-1, 7-1) on Friday at Bailey Field.
A No. 4 seed and first-round home game in 4A East/17-18 goes to the winner for what is likely a Smithfield-Grafton rematch Nov. 11 in the playoffs. Smithfield ensured their meeting in the regular season finale will be important with a great all-around play.
Three plays after the opening kickoff, senior running back William Robinson (8 carries, 137 yards, 2 TDs) ran 44 yards for the first of what would be six long touchdowns for the Packers. Then the defense, led by a series of crunching hits by senior middle linebacker Grayson Rowland, got into the act.
The Packers forced the Falcons (1-8, 1-7) to punt three times in the first half and stopped them on downs another time. Senior cornerback Ryan Jones spoiled the Falcons other first-half possession by intercepting a Ramsey Hayyat pass and returning it 90 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0.
"It felt good to get that first pick 6," Jones said. "We've been playing good defense all year, really, and we're getting better every week."
Following a three-and-out by the Falcons, Robinson ran 53 yards with a Willie Drew screen pass to increase the Packers lead to 20-0 with 1:23 to play in the first quarter. Robinson's 41-yard punt return moved the Packers to within 45 yards of the York end zone early in the second quarter. Senior wide receiver Chris Pierce covered those 45 yards with a catch on the fly from Drew that increased the lead to 26-0.
"Senior Night is going to be special for everyone, and doing something to leave a mark makes it more special," Pierce said.
Smithfield's defense nearly suffered a calamity on York's best play of the first half — Hayyat's 41-yard completion to Adam Lytle — as middle linebackers Rowland and Jack Darden banged legs. Both were down on the field for several minutes but not badly hurt it turned out.
With Robinson leading the offense and lineman Raekwon Batten providing the defensive pressure up front, Smithfield scored two third-quarter touchdowns similar to those of the first half. Robinson surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive season with a 69-yard touchdown run.
"Achieving my goal and helping my team succeed is good because it means we're going to the next level," Robinson said.
Drew, whose 135 yards passing put him over 1,000 yards for the season, gave Smithfield's junior class something to cheer about by returning an interception 100 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Packers a 42-0 lead.
"When you're on a win streak, you have to set new objectives," Smithfield coach Reginald Chavis said of his team's sixth consecutive win. "We won six games last year, so we talked about winning tonight and going one better."
SMITHFIELD 42 YORK 0
Smi: Robinson 44 run (Tucker kick), 10:45
Smi: Jones 90 interception return (Tucker kick), 3:52
Smi: Robinson 53 pass from Drew (kick blocked), 1:27
Smi: Pierce 45 pass from Drew (run failed), 8:01
Smi: Robinson 69 run (Brodie run), 7:47
Smi: Drew 100 interception return (Robinson run), 5:06
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.