Game of the Week
Photo: Laurel's Titus Mims rushes for some of his 189 yards in a losing cause against Smyrna on Friday, Sept. 24, 1999.
LAUREL -- The early season Henlopen Conference Southern Division showdown expected at Laurel High School Friday night never materialized as the Bulldogs were whipped, 28-14, by visiting Smyrna.
Fumbles, penalties and missed tackles added up to a humbling evening for the Bulldogs in their Henlopen South opener.
Now 0-2 overall, the Bulldogs, if they are to win the division, must do so largely on the road with five of their last six games away after starting the season with four straight home games.
Laurel never challenged as Smyrna unleashed a deadly ground attack with long, tackle-busting runs by sophomore Mike Pennewell and junior Scott Slack. Both ran for more than 100 yards, wth Pennewell rushing for 158 yards including touchdowns of 14 and 56 yards and Slack going for 106 more including an 88-yard touchdown gallop that gave Smyrna a 21-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
Senior quarterback Bobby Volkert picked Laurel's defense apart, too, completing 6 of 9 passes for 71 yards and an 8-yard touchdown pass to Greg Gammon for Smyrna's first score with 5:45 left in the second period.
The Bulldogs fell behind 28-0 before finally scoring on a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Shawn Phillips to back John Small with 6:12 left in the game and a 10-yard TD pass from Phillips to Small on the game's final play.
Laurel's last gasp came early in the second half. On their opening drive, the Bulldogs were charging toward the end zone, but running back Titus Mims (189 yards rushing) coughed up one of his two lost fumbles racing up the middle inside the Smyrna 10 and the Eagles recovered at their 2.
Still, Laurel head coach Paul Kmetz felt his team could stuff Smyrna deep in its own territory and get good field position on its next possession. Instead, the Eagles quickly gained a first down, and then, from their own 12, Slack ripped off his 88-yard TD run to essentially finish the Bulldogs off.
Laurel running back John Cahall sweeps around end for a good gain in the first quarter. Cahall ran for 27 yards on the Bulldogs' first drive but played sparingly after that with a brace on his left ankle.
5:45 -- SMYRNA, 7-0
1:56 -- SMYRNA, 14-0
5:58 -- SMYRNA, 21-0
2:03 -- SMYRNA, 28-0
6:12 -- LAUREL (28-8 Smyrna)
0:00 -- LAUREL (28-14 Smyrna)
"The days are over when you had mismatches in the Henlopen Conference. Everybody is equal and if everybody is equal, then it comes down to who prepares the best. The realization that these guys have to come to is everybody is equal. Every game will be a dogfight. People have to get used to it."
Kmetz on his team's fumbles, including three by senior running back Titus Mims, who finished with 189 yards:
"The turnovers were just a matter of people trying to make an extra effort and doing more than they really can. You can't fault them for that."
Kmetz on his halftime message with Laurel down 14-0:
"We felt we would get six possessions in the second half and that if we could hold them and score on half of our possessions, we could win the game."
Kmetz on sophomore Smyrna running back Mike Pennewell, who finished with 158 yards rushing including TDs of 14 and 56 yards:
"He ran for 140 yards against Middletown in their opener and 200 yards last week. I don't think any teams even ran for 140 yards against Middletown last year. He's the real deal."
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