An early fumble recovery against Marshall set the tone for a figurative Smith-Cotton recovery after a week one road loss.
The Tigers took the ball from Owls quarterback John Haug after a high snap Friday, Aug. 26 at home. Smith-Cotton later pounded in a 4-yard Brandon Neale touchdown on the takeaway possession.
Rinse, wash and repeat was the Tigers’ method, gathering more than 300 yards on the ground in a 38-0 victory over Marshall at Tiger Stadium in Sedalia.
Sophomore Neale, who scored twice, joined Brice Pannier and Cage Young in a three-headed rush attack. Pannier had 126 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Young scored a pair of touchdowns from 19 and 40-yards out.
Head coach Ryan Boyer said he was proud of the diverse backfield and effort on the offensive line.
“On both sides of the ball, we always stress the line play,” Boyer said. “If those guys don’t go, nobody goes. From there, we’re blessed enough to have four, and really even five running backs … where they can just step up and go. We really don’t script too many plays for a specific guy to get the ball. We call your name, you better step up.”
In the first half, kicker Blake Grupe set the school record for single-season field goals with a 34-yard make. Smith-Cotton led 10-0 at halftime.
Marshall struggled on offense. Its biggest gain was a 32-yard connection from Haug to Jaylin Varner. Boyer said the Owls — specifically Varner — provided a quality, early-season challenge to the S-C secondary.
“Their one-two punch is quarterback to wide receiever,” Boyer said. “That Varner kid, he’s a great athlete. They had a lot of threats out there and they kept us on our heels.”
Backup quarterback Kyler Simoncic entered the game with a 31-0 lead. On fourth down, Simoncic scrambled 26 yards for the Tigers’ fifth touchdown.
Friday, Sept. 2, Smith-Cotton (1-1) hosts Warrensburg (1-1) for the Silver Tiger Trophy.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2