Nov 10, 2012
E.E. Smith's football team learned a lesson the hard way - then it did the teaching.
Down 14-0 after Southeast Guilford's first two possessions - the biggest deficit the Golden Bulls had faced all season - the Mid-South 4-A Conference champions unleashed a second-half lightning storm to post a 54-36 win in the second round of the state 4-A playoffs.
E.E. Smith (11-1) will travel to face Southeastern 4-A titlist Scotland (11-1) next Friday night, with the winner advancing to the Eastern finals.
"We hadn't been behind like that all season, but the kids didn't panic; they showed some character," Smith coach Duran McLaurin said. "The defense got us a big, huge stop before halftime and (assistant coach Jermaine) Bryant did a great job of pointing out some indicators."
The defensive stand kept Southeast Guilford, which had first-and-goal at the 3, from extending its lead to two touchdowns, and the Golden Bulls went into the locker room down by eight, 21-13.
And in a span of three snaps to start the second half, Smith delivered its first doses of shock therapy.
Sulaiman Mustafaa, who rushed for minus-1 yard in the first half, broke loose for a 57-yard touchdown on the first snap of the third quarter. After a change of possession, quarterback Phillip Bell took a second-and-7 snap and raced 60 yards for the go-ahead score. Four minutes later, he added a 9-yard touchdown run to make it 33-21.
"I just had to hold the ball a little longer for the play to develop, then I just had to get my behind my blockers, and Sulaiman did, too," said Bell, who carried 17 times for 129 yards.
Said Mustafaa, who finished with 158 yards on 12 touches: "We had chances, made adjustments, made plays off of that and did good."
Then the defense created its own scoring opportunity on the ensuing Southeast possession. Quarterback Ryan Craven coughed up the ball, and defensive end Arthur Williams picked it up on a hop and rumbled 57 yards to put the Golden Bulls up 40-21.
Southeast added a score from Jamal Petty to close the deficit to 12 points with 7:18 to play, but Mustafaa put the game out of reach with touchdown runs of 21 and 65 yards in a span of 2 1/2minutes.
"I think they played a little bit harder" in the second half, Falcons coach Fritz Hessenthaler said of the Golfen Bulls. "We couldn't seem to stop that tackle route. (Bell) did a good job of reading it and we couldn't make that counteradjustment."
Southeast put an early scare into the Golden Bulls as Shakir Turner and Petty scored in the first four minutes. Smith halved the deficit on stellar receptions by Ismail Williamson from Bell, with the latter catch covering 21 yards for six point.
Southeast countered with an 87-yard kickoff return by Barry Harris to up to its lead to 21-7, and it held that edge until late in the half, when Bell lofted a ball that the 6-foot-3, 196-pound Williamson went high to grab in the end zone.
That's when the Smith defense stiffened with its goal-line stand to end the half, and the offensive adjustments turned an eight-point deficit at the break into a 12-point lead with three scores in under eight minutes.
"Sometimes the best way to stop our offense is to keep us on the sidelines," McLaurin said. "They did a good job of controlling the ball and taking advantage of our miscues.
"We were rushing things a little in the first half. We got a little nervous, got a little behind. Phillip was trying to make a big play fast, Sulaiman was trying to make a big play fast, and we weren't giving our tackles our chance to get around. But once we got behind our tackles and showed a little patience, the play worked the way we draw it up and the kids did a good job of executing."
This story is closed for comments.