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Smith leads Tigers to homecoming win

Mundy’s Mill quarterback Rodricous Gates scrambles for some yardage in the second half of the Tigers’ win over Mount Zion on Friday. (Special Photo: Jason Mussell)

Mundy’s Mill quarterback Rodricous Gates scrambles for some yardage in the second half of the Tigers’ win over Mount Zion on Friday. (Special Photo: Jason Mussell)

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Mundy’s Mill senior running back Rodney Smith had 102 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a little over three quarters of playing time Friday in a win over Mount Zion at Twelve Oaks Stadium. (Special Photo: Jason Mussell)

HAMPTON — By the time Mundy’s Mill running back Rodney Smith reached the 100-yard mark in Friday’s game against Mount Zion, the Tigers had the game well in hand.

Smith would only get 102 yards on the night at Twelve Oaks Stadium, but he scored three touchdowns as Mundy’s Mill cruised to a 49-2 homecoming win in a key Region 4-AAAAA, Division A game.

With the win, Mundy’s Mill set up next week’s game against Drew as pivotal in the race for the subregion title. Drew defeated Forest Park as both teams enter next week 1-0 in the subregion.

It was the first win of the season for Mundy’s Mill, which had close losses to Coffee and McIntosh in the last two weeks. Both teams had a combined record record of 9-1 entering Friday’s action.

“We need all the wins we can get,” Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior said. “I felt our guys played well.”

Smith had touchdowns runs of 5, 4 and 3 yards in the first half. By the time he scored his third touchdown with 5:17 remaining in the first half, the Tigers had a 35-0 lead. The score would stand heading into the intermission.

Mundy’s Mill also got first-half touchdowns from Eric Tate, who scored on a 29-yard pass reception from Rodricous Gates with 4:17 remaining in the opening quarter as the Tigers led 14-0. On Mount Zion’s ensuing possession, Javon McCrary would return an interception 45 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 2:09 left in the first quarter.

“We just have too many young guys playing,” Mount Zion coach Ervin Starr said. “It can be good when you are building a program, but when you get beat 49-2, that’s when it looks bad.”

With Mundy’s Mill’s reserves in the game in the second half, Mount Zion threatened to score three times, but was denied each time inside the Tigers’ 20.

The Bulldogs lost the ball on downs twice on the Mundy’s Mill 20 late in the game. Each time, Mount Zion was stopped a yard short of a first down. With 10 seconds remaining in the game, Mundy’s Mill defensive back Gerald Miller intercepted a pass to stop Mount Zion’s final drive of the game.

Mount Zion’s only score came with 1:16 remaining in the game on a safety when the ball was snapped over the Mundy’s Mill punter’s head and sailed out the back of the end zone. On the Bulldogs’ ensuing drive, Miller got his interception.

“It was great seeing when the starters went out that our twos and threes came in with the same intensity,” Smith said. “It would have been good to get the goose egg, but I’ll take the win.”

Mount Zion takes on Ola next week in a subregion game as the Bulldogs seek their first win on the season.

“We got a lot of talent, but the problem is that they are young,” Starr said. “We just have to keep coaching them up the best we can. I’m proud of them because they just keep fighting in every game. I love and respect them for their effort each week.”