Willie Drew stars as Smithfield holds off Warhill 48-36 in a wild game

Marty O'Brien
Contact Reportermobrien@dailypress.com
Robert Johnson's 30-yard fumble recovery for a score clinches the victory for the Packers

JAMES CITY — The Smithfield-Warhill football game proved worth the extra day's wait because it turned out to be the most entertaining of the Bay Rivers District season. The marquee entertainer was Smithfield quarterback Willie Drew, but Packers linebacker Robert Johnson stole a little bit of his thunder in the final act.

Despite an offensive outpouring by Drew, Warhill rallied to within six points and had the ball at their 35-yard line with just more than a minute to play. But as Lions quarterback Ryan Creecy set up to pass, Johnson rushed in, snatched the ball from his grasp and ran 30 yards for a touchdown to clinch a 48-36 victory for Smithfield on Saturday at Wanner Stadium.

"It was the end of the game and I still had to fight for my team and put some more points on the board," Johnson said. "For a minute I thought they might score, but we came together as a team and fought."

Of course he thought they might score. Why not? The teams combined for nearly 820 yards before Warhill dipped back under 400 total yards with 25 yards in losses on its final four plays.

Bryce Koob (123 yards rushing, three TDs) and Rodney Hudson (103 yards rushing) led the Warhill offense, which chewed up clock and downs (73 plays to Smithfield's 36) out of its wishbone. By contrast, Smithfield (2-2, 2-1 district) swung for the fences all day out of its spread, and Drew connected often.

Drew ran for 234 yards on 13 carries, with touchdown runs of 51, 67 and 42 yards. He would've added a 25-yard touchdown run, but had to settle for a 22-yard gain when one of his blockers inadvertently got in his way inside the 5-yard line late in the game.

"I was reading defenses, just doing what my coaches tell me to do, and things worked out how they should," said Drew, a speedy and elusive 6-foot, 170-pound junior. "It's an option and I saw them biting down on my running back (William Robinson), so I snatched (the ball) in and it was off to the races."

The track meet began with his 51-yard sprint to the end zone 59 seconds after the opening kickoff. Robinson (10 carries, 75 yards rushing, two TDs) scored on a 33-yard run to lift the Packers to a 14-0 lead with 4:57 to play in the first quarter.

Warhill (2-2, 1-2) retaliated with a 10-play, 56-yard drive in the second quarter, pulling to within 14-7 on Tre'Von Loftin's 11-yard touchdown run, and the teams traded punches the rest of the afternoon. Smithfield scored economically, on possessions of three, six, two, one, two and seven plays, never trailing.

The Lions had another 10-play touchdown drive and one of 15 plays, but struck quickly at key moments. Trailing 42-29 following a 3-yard touchdown run by Smithfield's Caleb Brodie with 5:04 to play in the game — set up by runs of 11 and 22 yards by Drew — the Lions went 72 yards in three plays to pull back to within six points.

Creecy completed a 60-yard pass to Hudson to set up Koob's third touchdown, from 3 yards, as the Lions cut the Packers' lead to 42-36 with 3:58 to play. Then, behind Jack Wright's sack of Drew, the Lions forced a Smithfield punt and got the ball back with 1:38 to play at their own 35.

"That's one thing that speaks to the character of this team is that the kids played hard to the end," Warhill coach Thad Wheeler said.

Smithfield showed character, too, overcoming a lack of practice because school was canceled for two days due to flooding in Isle of Wight County. That prompted the postponement of the game to Saturday and the change of venue from Smithfield High to Wanner Stadium.

"Our growth in comparison to last year is that we had adversity with the flooding and (lack of) practice and overcame it," Smithfield coach Reginald Chavis said. "We're lucky to get the win any way we can."

SMITHFIELD 48, WARHILL 36

Smithfield: 14, 7, 15, 12 – 48

Warhill: 0, 14, 7, 15 – 36

First quarter

Smi: Drew 51 run (Tucker kick), 11:01

Smi: Robinson 33 run (Tucker kick), 4:57

Second quarter

War: Loftin 11 run (Whalen kick), 7:47

Smi: Drew 67 run (Tucker kick), 7:01

War: Fannin 5 run (Whalen kick), 1:01

Third quarter

Smi: Drew 42 run (Tucker kick), 9:52

War: Koob 5 run (Whalen kick), 1:24

Smi: Robinson 23 run (Brodie run), :44

Fourth quarter

War: Koob 1 run (Koob run), 8:30

Smi: Brodie 3 run (kick blocked), 5:04

War: Koob 3 run (Whalen kick), 3:58

Smi: Johnson 30 fumble return (run failed), 1:07

Smi; War

First downs: 13; 18

Rushes-yards: 27-337; 66-261

Passing yards: 66; 130

Comp-Att-Int: 5-9-0; 5-7-0

Penalties-yards:3-25; 6-30

Punts-avg: 3-34.7; 3-20.3

Fumbles-lost: 2-1; 2-1

O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.

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