During a first half onslaught reminiscent of what occurred over the first six weeks, Class 3 No. 2 Maryville proved a point.
No, their gaudy statistics and obscene scoring differential weren't merely a byproduct of playing weaker competition.
The Spoofhounds are just that good.
Against an opponent with larger numbers and a season-long track record that warranted legitimacy, Maryville blitzed Smithville with a 20-point first quarter and stayed in control throughout despite a far more evenly-matched second half to record a 34-7 win Friday on Senior Night at the Hound Pound.
It was Maryville's six straight victory over Smithville and seventh straight this year by at least 27 points.
"I think it's great that everybody thinks we haven't played anybody all year," said Maryville head coach Matt Webb. "Now, we finally played somebody. Hopefully, these guys will start realizing that the Spoofhounds are pretty darn good this year."
With three first quarter rushing touchdowns and another in the second quarter, Maryville took a season-low 27-0 lead to the half that shrank to 27-7 when Smithville running back Zach Parmenter broke off a 73-yard run on the opening play of the second half.
The Hounds regained their 27-point lead on Brody McMahon's 65-yard touchdown run later in the third quarter and kept Smithville off the board the rest of the way with timely stands at their own end.
Forced to play a full four quarter game for the first time all year, Maryville improved to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the MEC, remaining tied for first place with Friday's opponent Savannah.
Smithville fell to 4-3 overall, 2-3 in the MEC and became the first team on Maryville's schedule not to get clocked.
A running clock seemed like a distinct possibility after the Hounds went up 20-0 in the first quarter, but the final three-plus quarters produced just a 14-7 advantage in Maryville's favor. Smithville played dead-even with the Hounds in the second half, preventing Maryville from reaching 40 points for the first time all year.
"The take-away is we need to put together a full game against a quality opponent like this and the other thing is Maryville has an outstanding football team," said Smithville head coach Greg Smith. "They just came out and played lights-out. Before we took a breath, we were down 20 points and by the time we settled in and started playing ball, it was too late."
Maryville's first three scoring drives took a total of 17 plays and 14 of them went for nine yards or greater.
Playing their starters the entire night, the Spoofhounds repeatedly gashed Smithville in the run game to the tune of 397 yards, a new season-high.
Maryville gained most of that total on three plays it ran over and over again with nearly unlimited success—the toss sweep to Derek Stiens, the counter trap to McMahon and the reverse to senior Peyton Mizera.
Page 2 of 4 - "What coach (Matt) Houchin does on offense and our players were able to execute is the fact that if they take something away, our offense is versatile enough to be able to go to something else," said Webb. "That's kind of the way we play football."
McMahon had the most productive day on the ground of his promising young career with 201 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Given more touches than usual, Mizera took advantage with a season-high 138 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Stiens added 58 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.
"Peyton Mizera really stepped up big tonight," said Webb. "He had some great runs. All those guys you ask them and the first thing they'll tell you is to thank the offensive line. They do a great job and preparation was great all week."
While running at will, the Hounds had a tougher time than normal throwing the ball, an indicator that Smithville was far better in pass defense than teams the Hounds have seen.
Quarterback Jonathan Baker completed less than 50 percent of his passes (7-15) for the first time all year, went without a touchdown pass for the first time and threw his first two interceptions, although neither one cost the Hounds anything on the scoreboard.
Baker did account for one score with a 1-yard sneak on Maryville's opening drive.
"It's not necessarily that we weren't able to throw the football," said Webb. "I think we were able to run the football very effectively as well. They do a good job. I said all week they're a good defense. They know how to take things away. Give credit to them. That's a good football team we just beat tonight."
Maryville's defense surrendered a season-most 266 yards, but held a seventh straight opponent to seven points or less and shut out an opponent in the first half for the sixth time.
Smithville's seven-point output came a year after they put up 30 in the first half against Maryville.
Keying the Hounds success on defense was the job they did against Parmenter, the MEC's leading rusher.
He came into the game averaging close to 180 yards rushing, but finished with only 104 on 21 carries.
Outside of his 73-yard scoring run in the third quarter, he had just 31 yards on 20 carries with a long of four yards.
"It starts upfront with the defensive line and being able to control those offensive lineman," said Webb. "They are very talented, very good, very strong. We're big. We're quick. They do a good job of listening to coaching and we put them in some situations tonight to take away their run game with No. 20. I was very pleased."
Page 3 of 4 - Proving once again to be nearly unblockable, senior Caleb Mather forged his way into the backfield to make five tackles, two for loss, and a sack. Linebacker Chris Dougan made a team-high 7.5 tackles.
"Their defensive line and their linebackers played outstanding," said Smith. "We weren't able to get the seams like we have all season."
After numerous first half attempts to run Parmenter up the middle produced nothing, Smithville finally realized it wasn't just going to be able to pound Maryville and adjusted accordingly with play-action and designed roll-outs from senior quarterback Cory Marmet.
The new approach yielded better results in the second half with the Warriors picking up 187 of their 266 yards.
Marmet finished with 106 yards passing and 48 rushing, but 15 incompletions on 21 attempts played a large part in Smithville getting nothing out of six drives that crossed into Hound territory.
"Our game plan coming in was to try to loosen them up a little bit with some of that," said Smith. "We weren't able to make the connection a lot of the times."
Smithville's offense also had a tough time overcoming three holding penalties and two false starts that put them in three 1st and 20 or longer situations.
The Warriors never converted any of them.
"We found ourselves behind the chains a lot especially in the first half and that's a recipe for disaster," said Smith.
Penalties were a nuisance to the Hounds as well. Maryville was flagged 10 times on the night for 75 yards and one of those—a block in the back---wiped out a 65-yard touchdown pass from Baker to Stiens late in the first half.
"We got to continue to work on stopping penalties," said Webb.
The Hounds were spotless through most of the first quarter, scoring on three of four drives and forcing Smithville to punt twice and turn it over on downs once.
Starting at its own 27, Maryville took the ball right down the field on its opening drive, reeling off four plays of 10 yards or longer.
Baker charged in from the 1-yard line to give Maryville a 6-0 lead less than two minutes in.
A missed extra point from Boston Schneider—his first since week two—kept it there.
Smithville went backwards 12 yards on its first three plays and quickly punted back to the Hounds who took over at the Warrior 42.
Three plays later, Mizera ran a reverse 21 yards for a touchdown. The extra point made it 13-0 not even four minutes in.
Smithville's second series included their third offensive penalty and a second three-and-out.
Maryville picked up 22 yards on its next two plays before a false start and Baker's first interception, caused by his arm getting hit, gave Smithville the ball back. Safety Jonathan Cochrane made the pick and returned it to the 43.
Page 4 of 4 - The Warriors cracked Maryville territory for the first time, but the Hounds stuffed two short yardage running plays to regain possession.
Maryville went briskly down the field and scored on a 9-yard run by Stiens to go up 20-0 with 1:55 left in the first half.
Smithville punted on its next possession and a delay of game penalty on fourth and one forced them to do so again in the second quarter. McMahon powered Maryville's next drive with a 26-yard broken-tackle laced reception and a 4-yard scoring run to make it 27-0 with 5:25 left in the half.
Maryville's final first half possession ended with Baker's second interception. This came on a third and 20 deep ball with less than 10 seconds left in the half, so no harm done.
The start to the second half provided a bit of a stunner.
Smithville caught the Hounds in an unbalanced formation and ran a simple toss play to Parmenter. He motored 73 yards around the right side for a touchdown, bringing the score to 27-7.
All the sudden, it was a game again.
Smithville got the ball back down 20 with a backfield stop of Stiens on a fourth and one running play.
The Warriors hit a 15-yard pass on fourth and 10 down to the Hound 19, seeking to make it a two-score game. After a holding call, Nolan Gromacki dropped a potential first down reception, and the Warriors ended up turning it over on downs.
Smithville's window for a comeback closed there.
McMahon put the game out of reach with a 65-yard touchdown run on a third and four play with 3:52 left in the third quarter.
It would be the final score for either team.
Smithville intruded Maryville territory on its final three drives, but all three stalled out.
The Hounds sought to add to the lead, but failed to convert a fourth and four and a fourth and six in the fourth quarter.
"We feel good, but we always still want to clean stuff up," said Stiens. "We had a lot of penalties tonight. I mean it's a good win. They're a tough opponent. We still just got to keep going. We still got two more tough weeks ahead of us."
Maryville takes on Class 4 No. 2 Savannah Friday in Savannah. The winner of the game will clinch at least a share of the conference title. Savannah has beaten Maryville each of the last two years, most recently 21-14 in overtime.