By ERIC KEPPELER
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Lackawanna junior Cam Smith rushed 17 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns, and he also added a pair of 80-yard kickoff return scores to power the Steelers to a 41-20 victory over the visiting Tonawanda Warriors in a Class B West football matchup at Veterans Stadium.
Lackawanna goes to 1-2 in the division and 2-2 overall, while the Warriors remain winless at 0-4.
“It was very important for us to get our first league victory,” Smith said. “We were really pumped up for it, with our homecoming and everything. We really needed this one.”
The Warriors had difficulty with the Steelers’ overall team speed, and Smith’s long scoring plays were the difference in the game.
“Any time you give up big plays like that, it’s hard to win,” Tonawanda coach Rob Gross said. “We were definitely right in there, we had them contained — but then we gave up one play and it was off to the races. We need to finish.”
The Warriors opened the scoring on a 19-yard run by quarterback Clayton Hess, but Smith took the ensuing kick back 80 yards to put the Steelers up 7-6.
Smith scored on a 2-yard run midway through the second quarter, but Tonawanda tied it at 14 when Tim Barnard went 40 yards for a score on an option toss. The Steelers took a 21-14 lead into the half when quarterback Dylan Gregoire scored on a 2-yard run.
Any thoughts of a second-half rally were snuffed when Smith opened the third quarter with another 80-yard touchdown return.
“That was our biggest play of the year so far,” Smith said. “Hope we’ve got plenty more of those.”
He added scoring runs of 90 and 9 yards as Lackawanna put the game away with a 20-0 third quarter.
Tonawanda notched the only score of the fourth quarter when Tristan Boling found Hess with a 7-yard touchdown pass. Hess was9 for 19 for 127 yards and he rushed for a touchdown. Boling caught five passes for 61 yards.
Barnard finished with 16 carries for 110 yards and a score, and he also led the defense with 8 tackles. Corbin Snyder and Jeff Noworyta had fumble recoveries.
“I’m proud of the way we fought,” Gross said. “We didn’t quit and we didn’t hang our heads. We stayed with it and we kept on playing.”