By Clay Fowler
Killeen Daily Herald
ROUND ROCK Keith Smith had a score to settle.
A week after completing 2 of 15 passes for just 8 yards, Shoemaker's junior quarterback hit on nine of his first 11 throws for 155 yards, passed for a touchdown and ran for two more, proving instrumental in the Grey Wolves' 39-22 landmark win over the Round Rock McNeil Mavericks.
SHS, which has never made the playoffs in the school's five-year history, extended its best start ever to 3-0, topping the defending district champion Mavericks (1-2) at Round Rock ISD Stadium on Friday night.
"Last game was pathetic for me," Smith said. "We had a point to prove tonight, that we could still pass the ball, and I needed to be on top of my game. I was focused and my receivers were, too, and we got it done."
Smith finished the night 10-for-15 with 165 yards passing and 112 yards on 13 carries.
Junior running back Chris Poullard played a strong supporting role to Smith, rushing for two touchdowns and catching another. Poullard piled up 104 yards of total offense in his breakout game of the 2004 season.
"Every night it's somebody else stepping up," SHS head coach Ken Gray said. "Tonight it was Chris putting in a huge performance when we needed it."
With a 22-14 lead coming out of halftime, the Grey Wolves blew the game open with two touchdowns in a 1:06 span late in the third quarter, emerging with a 22-point lead.
SHS used a methodical scoring drive covering 69 yards in 11 plays to tack on the first of two fatal blows to McNeil.
On the Mavericks' first play from scrimmage following the touchdown, SHS senior defensive tackle Roy Miller burst into the McNeil backfield, stripped quarterback Jaydrien Parker and recovered the fumble at the Mavericks 35-yard line.
Three plays later, Smith charged in from 11 yards out to give Shoemaker a 36-14 lead.
"I think that was the dagger in their heart," Smith said. "From then on, we knew if we executed, the game was ours."
The Shoemaker offense totaled 381 yards, but it was the defense that provided the play of the game.
"People think of us as this offensive team with all these weapons," Gray said. "But this defense is doing the job and they showed that tonight against a very good football team."
Shoemaker set the tone early, marching deep into McNeil territory on its opening drive, but fumbled away a scoring opportunity at the 16.
SHS promptly moved into scoring position on its second possession when Smith found Contravious Parks (four receptions for 72 yards) down the left sideline with a 34-yard pass that set up Poullard's 2-yard touchdown plunge, giving SHS an early 7-0 advantage.
McNeil answered with an eight-play, 66-yard game-tying drive culminating in McNeil's Jake Lebens winning a jump ball in the end zone to pull down Jaydrien Parker's 28-yard touchdown pass.
After two Shoemaker punts, McNeil running back Sean Clark (22 carries for 133 yards) led a brutal 10-play drive in which the 5-6, 160-pound senior carried seven times for 56 of the 80 yards before Parker fired his second scoring pass of the night to Lebens in the right corner of the end zone with 5:39 remaining in the half, good for a 14-7 McNeil lead.
The Grey Wolves mustered an answer, marching 67 yards before Poullard swept right for his second touchdown of the game, a 4-yard run to pull SHS even at 14.
After the defense held, awarding the ball to the Shoemaker offense with 1:44 remaining in the half, Smith ran a flawless two-minute drill completing each of his two passes for 40 yards and running for 17 more, including a 4-yard touchdown scamper to cap the drive and give SHS a 22-14 lead at the half.
"This was a complete victory," Gray said. "We won on offense, defense and special teams against a very good football team. This is the defending district champions we're talking about.
"Not to mention a win on the road. It's huge for us heading into district play next week."
Contact Clay Fowler at email@example.com