COLUMBUS – Eupora High School sophomore fullback Vandy Smith is beginning to show head coach Junior Graham that he's going to be a running back the Eagles can count on the next few years.
On Friday night at West Lowndes, Smith had 11 carries for 112 yards as Eupora inched closer to securing a first-round home playoff game in Class 2A with a 30-6 victory.
The Eagles improved their records to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in Class 2A, Region 2.
Graham believes if Eupora can take care of business at Ackerman next Friday and East Webster can win out, his team should lock up second place in the region.
Smith said that has been the goal for the Eagles.
"We wanted to get the playoffs at home," Smith said. "We really wanted to get the seniors a first-round playoff game at home."
After Eupora took a 12-6 lead at halftime, Smith scored on a 2-yard run with 4:37 remaining in the third quarter to provide a cushion. Smith had three-straight carries for 20 yards after the Eagles recovered a fumble on the 20-yard line.
"He's come into his own," Graham said of Smith. "We kind of made a commitment after the East Webster game to try to get him a lot more touches. You could see (against West Lowndes), he's a load, especially when he gets into the open field. I think Savon (Daughtery) is going to be the same type of back. Probably next year, you'll see those two guys in the backfield together."
Smith said he wouldn't have been productive against the Panthers if it hadn't been for his offensive linemen, specifically guard Daulton Newman.
"They pulled well and when they pulled, they gave me that little seam and I hit it, cut upfield and run," Smith said. "It was a good night for me."
In the fourth quarter, Eupora put the game away with a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown by Jamal Roby and a 7-yard run for a score by George Starks.
Roby had three touchdowns against West Lowndes, including runs of 1 yard in the first quarter and 2 yards in the second quarter.
Graham said every score was necessary against the Panthers, who fell to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the region.
"They are not bad and can run at every position on defense," Graham said. "We knew we weren't going to have any big plays on them. We knew we had to run right at them and once we established the line of scrimmage, I thought the difference was there.
"Their coaches do a good job of getting it to their main guy."
That guy for West Lowndes was Antonio Wilson, but the Eagles did a good job of shutting him down in the second half.
After Wilson had eight carries for 49 yards and four catches for 34 yards in the first half, he only had two rushes for 1 yard and one catch for 4 yards in the second half.
Eupora had three interceptions as Deshawn Starks picked off the first pass the Panthers attempted, while Steadman Rice added an interception in the opening quarter and Smith picked off a pass that he almost got into the end zone for a score in the fourth quarter.
"(Wilson) is fast, caught me and dragged me down at the end," Smith said. "I tried to dive for it."