Donovan Smith returns two punts for TDs as Nashville Christian stays unbeaten
NASHVILLE – The old adage says that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
If that’s the case, Nashville Christian’s opponent last week, FRA, should consider themselves flattered.
A week after giving up two kickoff returns to the Panthers, Donovan Smith returned two punts for touchdowns en route to the Eagles’ 31-21 win over visiting Goodpasture Friday evening.
“Special teams is the best opportunity to make big plays and change momentum,” Nashville Christian head coach Jeff Brothers said. “Last week we gave up a couple of kickoff returns and not only just shoring that up a bit, but making sure our defense had a chance to establish control but to take advantage of our speed and athleticism on our return game and turn the field around.”
Smith opened the scoring with his first return at the 9:58 mark, a 74-yarder that followed the Cougars’ three-play opening drive. After back-to-back Goodpasture drives started in Nashville Christian territory and came up empty, Eagle quarterback Tyler Morris completed his second pass of the night, finding Jayden Satterfield streaking down the left sideline for a 38-yard score.
Musa Wellman gave the Cougars a boost with back-to-back 15-yard runs and capped the series with another 15-yarder with 3:01 left in the first.
The Eagles ended the first quarter with Macy Crampton’s 21-yard field goal stretching their lead to 17-7.
The Cougar running game continued to be stymied by the front two of Aiden Humes and Kevin Bradley. Both had eight tackles and multiple tackles for loss, with Humes adding a sack to his totals.
The Eagles managed to contain Brooks and running back Jaron Elkins, something Bradley said was a focus for the
“It was a point of emphasis,” said Bradley of his defense. “Keeping the running back and not letting him break good tackles and keeping the QB contained.”
Bradley, emotional after the win, had lost two family members during the week, one to cancer and one to the flooding in Humphries County.
“Josh…Roxanne” Bradley said, kissing two fingers and raising them to the heavens, “I love you guys. This game was dedicated to Waverly and my family.”
“Kevin does a great job, and he’s just a junior, playing really well,” Brothers said of Bradley. ‘’(I’m) really proud of him this week. His family was affected by the floods down in Humphries County, really proud of the way he just responded and focused on football with his friends and having fun and we kind of rallied around that family this week and that was great to see and to have a night like tonight was really good for him.”
After Nashville Christian fumbled at their own 25-yard line early in the second quarter, the Cougars had new life deep in Eagle territory. However, the Cougars failed to capitalize again.
“It was a physical football game,” Goodpasture head coach Greg Cotten said of the difficulty moving the ball. “You have two physical teams hitting each other in the mouth … they just hit a little harder than we did tonight. They’re really good up front, and we have some talented weapons and the plan was to get the ball into as many of those hands as we can. Maybe we didn’t get it into their hands as much as we needed to tonight.”
Goodpasture mounted its best drive of the night, mixing Brooks and Elkins runs and converting two third downs and a fourth-and-2 on a 69-yard drive late in the half. Elkins rolled right, then quickly looked left and hit Elkins on a screen pass that turned into a 34-yard touchdown to cut Nashville Christian’s lead to 17-14 with 24 seconds left in the half.
Smith added to the Eagle lead on a 58-yard run with 1:58 left in the third, pushing the gap to 24-14.
“We made special teams an emphasis,” Smith said. “Coming in we always have special teams’ period, but we really know that special teams can make or break a game, and those are game changers. So, we put a lot of time and effort into special teams this week … an extra kickoff period, and extra punt period, so we really had a great special teams day today.”
Goodpasture drove to the Nashville Christian 13-yard line when disaster struck again. Brooks rolled right and threw back to the goal line where Jaelyn Marsh collected his first interception of the night. After Crampton’s 27-yard field goal attempt was blocked, Marsh snagged his second takeaway, setting up a Deion King’ touchdown run from seven yards with 4:51 to play.
Brooks scrambled in for the game’s final tally with 14 seconds remaining. Goodpasture hosts Lipscomb this week.
NASHVILLE CHRISTIAN 31, GOODPASTURE 21
|Goodpasture (0-2), Nashville Christian (2-0)||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
N – Donovan Smith 74 punt return, 9:58. Macy Crampton kick.
N – Jayden Satterfield 38 pass from Tyler Morris, 5:52. Crampton kick.
G – Musa Wellman 15 run, 3:01. Henry Lowe kick.
N – Crampton 21 field goal, 0:08.
G – Jaron Elkins 34 pass from A.J. Brooks, 0:24. Lowe kick.
N – Smith 58 punt return, 1:38. Crampton kick.
N – Deion King 7 run, 4:51. Crampton kick.
G – Brooks 17 run, 0:14. Lowe kick.
Goodpasture: Musa Wellman 9-54, A.J. Brooks 17-52, Jaron Elkins 15-42, Josh Williams 1-1.
Nashville Christian: Deion King 12-70, Tyler Morris 10-64, Jamel King 5-39, Josh Strickland 2-20, Jaelyn Marsh 1-3.
Goodpasture: Brooks 10-18-2 141.
Nashville Christian: Morris 2-8-0 43.
Goodpasture: Sam McLendon 3-48, Elkins 2-33, Andrew McWilliams 1-25, Octavious Henderson 1-19, Wellman 1-7, Emmett Smiley 1-6, Williams 1-3.
Nashville Christian: Jayden Satterfield 1-38, King 1-5.