Middletown continued its dominance over Smyrna in the regular season at Charles V. Williams Stadium Friday night but it wasn’t easy. The underdog Eagles had the ball with a chance to win, but Middletown’s Jacobi Rodgers intercepted a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game to preserve the Cavaliers 14-12 win.
Both defenses played extremely well forcing 8 punts and causing 5 total turnovers in the contest. In the end, the difference came down to Middletown kicker Austin Hamm’s two extra points and the Eagles not being able to convert either of their conversion attempts.
Middletown scored the game’s first touchdown on a seven yard run by Makai Walker late in the opening quarter. Smyrna answered on the very next possession with Tim Yancey racing 27 yards to the endzone, but the Cavaliers held Kahmaj Kearney from adding the 2-point conversion. Kearney was stopped just short as Tristen Graham made a strong tackle for the Cavs. Middletown increased its lead to 14-6 with 1:58 left in the half on an 8-yard pass from Austin Troyer to William “BJ” Garrett.
In the first half Troyer completed 9 of 12 passes for 142 yards, but Smyrna held the Cavaliers to just 9 yards rushing. Conversely, the Eagles balanced offense gained 71 yards on the ground and 95 yards through the air.
The second half was a scoreless battle until the home team Eagles put together a 7-play, 45 yard drive culminating in a 3 yard touchdown run by Kearney with 1:51 left in the game. The big play in that drive was a 19 yard run by Dior Mackey. Once again Middletown would thwart Smyrna’s conversion run as Kearney was hit by Ronnell Davis and Malachi Stewart short of the goal line. Smyrna’s onside kick attempt went out of bounds, giving the ball to the Cavs at their 41 yard line. The Eagles had all 3 timeouts remaining and the defense forced a Middletown punt as Brandon West sacked Troyer on third down. Following the punt, Smyrna started at their own 34 with 1:24 to go. Senior quarterback Jacob Tiberi completed 5 consecutive passes (4 to Phoenix Henriquez) and scrambled for 31 yards to set up the final play from the Cavaliers 14 with under :02. Tiberi looked to his right then threw across the field to Kearney in the corner of the endzone, but the pass was picked off by Jacobi Rodgers to end the game.
The capacity crowd was treated to an awesome game as both teams left everything they had on the field. The top-ranked Cavaliers improved to 4-1 with the win, while Smyrna fell to 1-4. Middletown has dominated the Harvest Bowl which began in 1985. The last time Smyrna won was 1993.
Austin Troyer finished the game passing for 171 yards while the Cavs could manage just 25 net yards rushing. Smyrna finished with a 357-196 advantage in total yards, rushing for 179 and passing for 179. Tim Yancey gained 70 yards on the ground while Drew Marks passed for 99 yards and Tiberi added 80. The Eagles were intercepted 3 times in the endzone as Ronnell Davis accounted for two of the “picks”. Davis was named the First State Ortho player-of-the-game with those two interceptions, goal line stops on conversion attempts plus he caught two passes for 63 yards.
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