SMITH CENTER – For the fourth consecutive season the Smith Center Redmen are headed to the 1A state championship football game after they rallied to beat the Plainville Cardinals 20-19 Friday in Smith Center.
The Cardinals got on the score board first when Ben Hansen recovered a Jaden Atwood fumble at midfield and took it to the house for a touchdown at the 10:51 mark in the first quarter to put Plainville up 7-0.
It would stay that way until later in the second quarter after Plainville punter Jordan Finnesy took a low snap on a knee and was marked at the Cardinal 35 yard-line. Smith Center turned the mistake to a five-play, 35-yard drive that was capped off by a two-yard Atwood touchdown to tying the game at seven.
The game tied until the 3:38 marked in the third quarter when Finnesy scored the first of his two second-half rushing touchdowns, this one from 12 yards out to make it 13-7 after the extra point was block.
Smith Center got on the board again in with 9:32 to play in the fourth quarter on a seven-yard Nate Hendrich touchdown run to make it 14-13. The drive was set up by a Plainville turnover on downs. Atwood, Smith Center’s leading rusher also got hurt on that drive and Hendrich stepped into his spot.
Trailing by one, Finnesy led Plainville down the field and scored on a 42-yard touchdown run with just under three and a half minutes to go in the game to put the Cardinals on top 19-14 after the two-point conversion was no good.
Down five Smith Center drove down the field and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 33-yard pass from Trenton Colby to Griffin Kugler with 1:26 to play that put Smith Center on top 20-19 after the two-point try was no good.
Plainville was able to put together a drive into Smith Center territory in the final minutes but Sergio Lambert picked off Finnesy for the third time in the game with under 40 second remaining to seal the win for the Redmen.
Smith Center’s quarterback Trenton Colby finished 9-of-16 passing for 107 yards with one touchdown. Atwood ran for 111 yards and one score before leaving the game with an injury.
Finnesy rushed for a game-high 123 yards and two touchdowns and was 11-for-20 for 141 yards and three interceptions.
Smith Center improves to 12-0 and will take on Centralia in the state championship game next Saturday in Hays.
Plainville finishes the second 10-2.