WILMINGTON — Bill DiNardo couldn’t remember a Salesianum team ever scoring more points in a single game since he’s been the coach.
And the Sals needed all those points on Friday night.
Colby Reeder led Sallies with seven touchdowns to defeat Smyrna High 76-56 in a key nonconference showdown at Baynard Stadium. Reeder rushed for 394 yards as the Sals outscored Smyrna 34-14 in the game’s final 17 minutes to pull away.
“I’ve never been involved in anything like this in my life,” DiNardo said.
Smyrna only led once on the night.
That was when junior quarterback Nolan Henderson connected with Donte Ritchie for an 86-yard touchdown pass when Smyrna was facing a third-and-long on the first drive of the third quarter. The two-point conversion was no good but the Eagles (2-1) still were ahead 36-35
Salesianum answered with a 23-yard touchdown pass by Garrett Cannon to Jeremy Ryan on fourth down. Smyrna was able to tied it on the next possession at 42-42 when Henderson scrambled for a 68-yard score on an option-keep.
But Reeder went for 56 yards on the Sals’ first play and punched it in from three yards out on the next play to give Sallies the lead for good.
“When you score 56 points you should be able to win, I don’t care who you play,” said Smyrna coach Mike Judy. “But Colby had a great game for them. Hats off to him and their coaching staff. I’m not super disappointed but I’m disappointed in our effort at the end of the game to let them get a couple of walk in touchdowns.”
Smyrna fumbled on its next drive but responded by bunkering down in the red zone to force a turnover on downs.
That play wasn’t all good for the Eagles though. Josh Hutchinson, one of Smyrna’s starting linebackers, was injured and had to be stretched off after a lengthy delay. Hutchinson was put into an ambulance to a hospital, which the Smyrna staff said was a precautionary measure.
Smyrna never got its offense full up and running after the injury break. The second half also dragged along thanks to multiple players cramps and more injuries on both sides which Judy said affected Smyrna’s spread-attack.
“I felt like all the timeouts took us out of our tempo and we weren’t able to wear them down as much as we wanted to,” Judy said.
Despite the close second half, this game looked to be all in favor of Salesianum (3-0) at the start.
The Sals scored the first three touchdowns of the game, capitalizing on a pair of interceptions. Salesianum lead 21-0 late in the first quarter, but Smyrna quickly closed its deficit to 35-30 at halftime
“You cannot spot a team like Salesianum or any Bill DiNardo coached team ever 21 points and expect the outcome to be good,” Judy said.
Henderson threw for four touchdowns and a career-high 505 yards while Will Knight rushed for three touchdowns and 141 yards to pace the Smyrna offense.
“They’re good, they’re explosive and they’re very talented,” DiNardo said.
Ritchie caught a pair of touchdowns and had more than 200 yards receiving. Marquelle Bennett and Knight were also on the receiving end of Henderson’s passing touchdowns.
“We kept fighting together as a team and as a family,” Knight said of the offense’s surge after facing the early deficit. “But we’ll get together and execute better. We have to get better for next Friday.”
Smyrna had outscored its previous opponents 120-0 in the first two games of the season against Delcastle and Appoquinimink. But the Eagles knew the storied Sals would provide a much tougher test.
It’s the kind of competition they need if they want to make a run to the state tournament says Judy.
“It brings us back down to earth after the last couple of weeks,” Judy said. “That’s the type of team you’re going to have to go through to win a state championship. It shows us what our strengths are, what our weaknesses are and we’re going to address those.”