CATEGORY: FOL High School Football

AUTHOR: ADAMS

HED:Smithville's dreams of state title closer

By Jake Adams

Daily Journal

DURANT - Dreams are coming true in Smithville.

The Seminoles (13-0) beat Durant 28-22 for a ticket to the Class 1A state championship where they will face the Pelahatchie next week at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.

"This is my dream," said Smithville quarterback Willie Lopez, who threw touchdowns of 60 and 23 yards. " I've dreamed this for so long. Ever since 1996 when we got beat overtime against Weir."

Both passes were to wide receiver Jordan Summerford.

The 60-yarder gave the Seminoles a 14-8 lead at 9 minutes, 23 seconds of the third quarter. Lopez hit Summerford for the 23-yard touchdown at 11:03 of the fourth to give Smithville the lead for good.

What's it going to be like playing in the state championship?

"Heaven I believe, heaven," Lopez said. "I've never felt so good in my life."

"He made some great plays," Smithville coach Dwight Bowling said of his senior quarterback.

The Seminoles led 28-14 after Lopez capped a 6-minute drive with a 1-yard keeper with just three minutes left.

The lead seemed safe, but Durant's Kendrick Campbell returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Big Hudie Weatherby ran in the 2-point conversion and Smithville's lead was cut to six.

Lopez was intercepted with just under two minutes remaining, but the Seminoles defense held when Campbell dropped a screen pass of fourth-and-3. The Smithville sidelines erupted in a jubilous celebration on the field and in the stands.

Durant finished the season 12-2.

"Our defense played a great ballgame," Bowling said.

Summerford, who has 16 touchdown receptions of the year, finished the night with three receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

"I'm the happiest man," Summerford said. "I knew if I missed them it just wouldn't go. I had to catch them, I had to."

Lopez, who was 9-for-14 for 169 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, claimed there was nothing special about his big throws to Summerford.

"I was just hoping he'd get open and I'd throw it," Lopez said. "He ran under it and made a good catch. I thought if they gave me time I'd find someone open, and they did. When they did he was open."

Summerford's big catches were set up by an unstoppable running game. Smithville tailback Matt Grier smeared the Tigers for 164 yards on 25 carries.

Grier's 40-yard touchdown run at 3:46 of the second quarter gave the Seminoles an 8-0 lead following Lopez's 2-point keeper.

Grier played a key role in Smithville's offensive success.

"We tried to come out running the ball and trying to get them to come up so we could get some wide receivers open," Lopez said. "We got them open in the second half."

Bowling said Grier was invaluable.

"He just continues to make the big play whenever we need it," Bowling said. "He made some great ones tonight. Offensively and defensively he's just a great, great player."

Grier said it was the Seminoles' defense, which didn't allow a completed pass and held the Tigers to under 200 total yards, that won the game.

"We knew the defense was the key to this game," Grier said. " If we didn't we was going to lose. Our defense stepped it up and did their job."

And now it's on to the state title game.

"I can't express how I feel," Grier said. "It's been like a childhood dream to me."

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