NORTH ADAMS >> After starting the season on a three-game losing streak, the Drury football team put its first check in the win column with a 34-6 victory over Smith Vocational on Saturday.
The Vikings struggled in all aspects of the game, and the Blue Devils did a good job capitalizing on their errors. A botched Smith snap put Drury deep in opposing territory for its first drive. Four plays later, Thaylen Harrison scored from seven yards out, and the rout was on.
"We've really been struggling to limit mistakes," Drury coach Seth Shepard said. "Penalties hurt us, but we've been trying to play a penalty-free game. We got close with Palmer, now we've got kids going to the right spots and knowing where they needed to be.
"You can start seeing the momentum build."
Drury lost the penalty yardage battle 76 to 36, but both teams turned the ball over only once. After Harrison's opening score, sophomore quarterback Obilio Rodriguez did most of the heavy lifting through the air. Shepard said he challenged his young quarterback to tighten up his game after a shaky practice on Friday, and his signal caller responded.
Rodriguez found Hayden Bird on a 20-yard fly route down the sideline for a score, putting the Blue Devils up 12-0 late in the first. Harrison added his second rushing touchdown with 3 minutes and 48 seconds left in first half.
In the second half, Jamal Beda scored on a highlight-reel type play. After forcing a turnover on downs, Rodriguez found Beda in the left flat on a swing pass, and the shifty runner shook a defender, bounced off another and sprinted down the right sideline for the score for 36-yard score.
Rodriguez's third passing score came off a play-action fake, hitting Taylor Fortini for a 24-yard score. Rodriguez finished with six completions for 150 yards. Fortini led Drury with 53 yards receiving. Beda had 57 yards rushing and 48 yards receiving. Harrison had a strong all-around game, making an interception on defense, rushing four times for 19 yards and two scores.
"It increases confidence a lot and he needs that confidence," Bird said of Rodriguez's strong performance. "It was good that we could get some touchdowns and get some confidence going it two big games against Lee and McCann [Tech]."
Smith Voc. struggled to generate much offense, until they moved big Stone Mitchell to the running back spot. Mitchell, wearing number 95, looks like a linemen, but has quick feet, good speed and a lot of power when running the ball. In the fourth quarter, Mitchell broke off runs of 17, 10 and 22, all for first downs. He capped the 12-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 34-6 with 5:50 left. Mitchell accounted for 81 of the Vikings' 136 yards rushing. Coach Tony Capua said the team had success with Mitchell running the ball in its heavy package, but they've got to build on those positive plays.
"With this team, we're not going to quit," he said. "They're going to continue to fight. It's a matter of putting things together offensively to continue with some positive plays. And then moving forward, using those positive plays to build momentum and continued belief in their ability."
D — Thaylen Harrison 7 run (run failed), 7:59.
D — Hayden Bird 20 from Obilio Rodriguez (run Failed), :55.
D — Harrison 3 run (run failed), 3:48.
D — Jamal Beda 36 pass from Rodriguez (Bird from Rodriguez), 4:43.
D — Taylor Fortini 24 pass from Rodriguez (J.J. Middleton run), 10:00;
S — Stone Mitchell 12 run (kick failed), 5:50
RUSHING — Smith: Parker Affhauser 9-13, Cam VanBuren 7-13, Stone Mitchell 15-81, Troy Benedict 1-(minus 2), Jacob Erali 1-31. Drury: Jamal Beda 13-57, Obilio Rodriguez 4-(minus 1), Thaylen Harrison 4-19, Nate Hillard 1-(minus 4), Dante Woodson 1-(minus 2), J.J. Middleton 5-12.
PASSING — Smith: Erali 11-17-1 26. Drury: Rodriguez 6-9-0 150
RECEIVING — Smith: N/A 2-1, Mitchell 2-18, VanBuren 2-(minus 4), N/A 1-2, Benedict 2-5, Affhauser 1-4. Drury: Taylor Fortini 2-53, Hayden Bird 2-49, Beda 2-48.
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252