By FRANCIS FEDOR
The night started slowly for both offenses with the defense bottling up both sides. The Stingrays would draw first blood on the night, taking advantage of Middleton’s being backed up on a 4th and 23 at the nine-yard line. Middleton was forced to punt, giving Sumner great field position. Stingray sophomore QB Greg Smith III got the call and, while shaking off tackles, carried the ball 42 yards for the score, putting the first points on the scoreboard with a little over a minute left in the first quarter. Smith has been a big factor, giving the defense fits with his mobility, pulling the ball down and taking off on the ground when the passing lanes are tightly covered. The Stingrays defense gave the ball back to the offense with junior Keoni Denny forcing a fumble. Sophomore Kade Ray followed with a 30-yard scamper for a Stingray TD as the clock ticked to 0’s to end the first quarter.
The Tigers would not go away and put their first points on the board midway through the second quarter to cut the Sumner lead to 14-8. As with a number of games in this Sumner season, the officiating left the fans and coaches shaking their heads. The Tigers had three shots at the point after, with two very late flags, finally converting. Sumner would respond with a drive, culminating in a connection between QB Smith and receiver Kade Ray for a 25-yard touchdown, Rays’s second TD on the night. The Stingrays would close the half with a 21-8 lead.
Middleton created anxiety in the Homecoming crowd with a three-yard touchdown run. Sumner responded with an FG, and the third quarter ended with a Stingray lead of 21-15. The Stingray special teams offered their contribution with senior Jeremiah Exceus scoring on 52-yard punt return for a TD to give Sumner a 31-15 cushion with 5:30 left in regulation. The Tigers would still have life, adding a TD with 2:43 left, but it would be the Stingray offense closing out the game, running the remaining time off of the clock. Keoni Denny also was crowned a Homecoming King, but it was his on-field excellence that contributed to the Sumner victory. QB Smith again accounted for a big part of the Stingray offensive stats, accounting for 105 yards on the ground and 80 in the air of the nearly 300 yards of Stingray offense. Sumner looks to continue to be the best team in the South Shore region on Friday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 vs. Brandon (0-7) at Sumner High.