By EMILY R. WEST Photos by KINDELL MOORE
Even though both Smyrna (3-1) and Independence (4-0) walked onto the field undefeated Friday, one of them had to go home with their first loss of the season.
Now up to a 19-game win streak, Independence outscored the Bulldogs only by two touchdowns, closing out with a 21-7 win.
The Eagles forced seven turnovers, which helped offset Smyrna’s 413 yards of total offense.
“Our defense played with incredible effort and incredible focus,” Indy Head Coach Scott Blade said. “They really capitalized on some of the mishaps by them.”
But the top ranked 5A team in the state appeared a little shaky on offense, only earning 161 total yards. The team scraped by with only six first downs to win the game.
“Our offense struggled at times, but I am proud of them,” Blade said. “We made enough first downs and made enough points to get away. This is a touch matchup right here. This was physical and two good teams were swinging it out. We are proud of our guys, and we are excited to move forward.”
One of Indy’s most versatile players on the field was Landon Guidry, who helped swing the momentum for the Eagles in the beginning of the game.
With a blocked punt, he provided Indy with key field position on the 10-yard line. He later rushed in from the 5-yard line to score the first touchdown of the game.
Guidry later became responsible for an interception later in the first half.
But as sloppy as some of the Eagles’ plays were on offense, Smyrna matched them in stride. Unable to capitalize on the opening drive, the Bulldogs got within four yards of the goal line without scoring. The home team later came up short after fumbling the ball away on the 20-yard line. That turnover cost them a touchdown when Indy’s Montray Steele returned it for 85 yards.
“We thought our kids played hard, Smyrna head coach Matt Williams said. “I was proud of how our kids played. We had some big stops, especially around the goal line. I thought our kids battled the whole football game, but it was just too many turnovers, and too many penalties to overcome.”
Williams said he will put this game in the rear-view mirror and still strive to win their region. Smyrna hits the road next week to play Warren County.
Indy will travel to Summit High School (3-1) for the Border Battle.