DALLAS – Quiet and soft-spoken, K.K. Smith took some congratulatory pats from teammates as the Stevenson University sophomore talked with members of the media.
Never once did he take credit for his play at Mangelsdorf Field, deflecting the attention to the men in the trenches.
"They are the ones who opened the holes," he said. "I just followed my blocks, and hit the big holes. They did a great job."
Smith was being modest.
The sophomore ran for 234 yards and three touchdowns as Stevenson jumped out to a 13-0 lead after one quarter and added 15 fourth-quarter points in a 35-7 victory Saturday afternoon in a battle of two fledgling programs.
Stevenson, in only its second season, picked up its first win of the year. Misericordia, in its opening year on the gridiron, continues to make positives strides.
"It means a lot to get the first win," Smith said. "I wish we could have gotten it a few games ago, though."
It's a simple equation, really. The Mustangs had one too many playmakers.
Stevenson had Smith, an explosive athlete who posed a threat to score any time his hands wrapped around the pigskin.
That was clearly evident when head coach Ed Hottle chose to go for a fourth-and-1 on the Mustangs' opening drive in the first quarter. Smith broke through the line, and went untouched straight down the middle of the field for a 45-yard score.
On the Mustangs' next drive, Anthony Smith made an outstanding one-handed, over-the-shoulder catch while managing to keep one foot inbounds for a 33-yard completion.
"I don't think we out-athleted them," Hottle said. "I think we just out-experienced them."
Hottle understands what Mark Ross is going through. Probably better than any other coach in the conference.
It was last season where Stevenson was starting a lineup of almost all freshmen in the Mustangs' opening campaign of football.
The head coach will admit it's a work in progress each day.
"I don't think people understand how hard this is," Hottle said. "He's coach. He's dad. He's guidance counselor. He's cheerleader. He's psychologist. He's everything wrapped in one with these guys. It's hard, and we still go through it. I get home at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. and I am just emotionally and physically exhausted. It's trying and tough, but it pays off. You can see his team is working hard. The day is going to come where you will see it pay off."
Right now, it's about the little mistakes.
Ones that kill drives – or start them on the wrong side of the sticks.
Misericordia's biggest issue was penalties, starting off almost every drive of the first half with an illegal motion or false start call.
"I told our kids that it can't be first-and-15 every time," Cougars coach Mark Ross said. "We had to eliminate those penalties, and if we did, I felt that we had a chance to do some things offensively. In the second half, we did a better job of doing those things, and we moved the football. I thought we played hard for 60 minutes, and that's all we can ask of them."
S – K.K Smith 45 run (Charlie Cornell kick), 7:57
S – Jae DeShields 10 pass from Josh Gasparovic (kick failed), 1:37
S – Smith 27 run (Cornell kick), 10:33
M – Jeff Puckett 4 run (Steve Clemson kick), 2:44
S – Marcus Holley 1 run (Smith run), 14:30
S – Smith 1 run (Cornell kick), 7:16
RUSHING – S: K.K. Smith 20-234, Marcus Holley 15-116, Alpha Jalloh 1-13, Team 1-0, Anthony Reid 2-(-1), William Hill 3-(-8); M: Cody Lamoreaux 19-79, Jeff Puckett 10-64, Robin Custodio 13-58, Benny Delgado 3-22, Juwan Pettie-Jacks 1-4, Frank Santarsiero 1-2
PASSING – S: John Gasparovic 9-15-1 69 yards, Reid 1-3-0 8 yards; M: Puckett 4-6-1 18 yards
RECEIVING – S: Jae DeShields 3-22, Jeromie Miller 3-6, Anthony Smith 2-37, Jalloh 1-8, Smith 1-4; M: Paul Brace 1-15, Santarseiro 1-10, Dean Lucchesi 1-0, Petties-Jacks 1-(-7)
MISSED FGS – NONE
INTERCEPTIONS -- S: Tyren Pinkett; M: William Roach