AIKEN - Kenyata Smith knew what was coming before the snap.
Aiken's cornerback had watched film of North Augusta's offense all week, so he had a feeling Andre Young would throw left to Brian Danforth.
What happened next will probably be rewound and replayed in Smith's mind for quite some time. The junior snared the pass and raced 44 yards for a touchdown in the Hornets' 21-14 win Friday.
"I've been watching a lot of film, and I saw it," said Smith, whose team has won seven of its past eight games and seven straight over North Augusta. "I saw where the inside guy reverses out, and I just saw the play. I went for the ball, and I took it to the house."
The score came with 47 seconds left in the first half and broke a 7-7 deadlock, and it served as the perfect illustration of a game Aiken's defense controlled when it mattered.
North Augusta cut a 21-7 lead to 21-14 on a run by Reggie Merriweather with 9:47 left, but the Yellow Jackets (8-2, 3-2 Region 3-AAAA) couldn't take advantage of several promising scoring opportunities and lost their second straight game.
"We put ourselves in position to score, and we didn't make it happen," said North Augusta coach Joe Long. "At times, we looked flawless. Other times, we couldn't do anything."
Long would probably give his left arm for a good arm at quarterback. His two signal-callers, Andre Young and Frayne Abernathy, combined for one completion on 12 attempts, and Young's two interceptions were costly.
The first Smith returned for a touchdown. Long said Young should have spotted Smith and thrown the ball away.
"He's a 10th-grader," Long said. "He made a 10th-grade mistake."
Young made another one on the Jackets' last drive. After North Augusta had second-and-goal from the Hornets' 6 but gave the ball away after two straight incompletions by Abernathy, Aiken (7-3, 4-1) went three-and-out and a 16-yard punt put the Jackets at the Hornets' 26.
Young tripped and fell on first down for a loss of 2, then a desperate fling to no one in particular was picked off by Ombreyan Broadwater to end the threat and the game.
"We had receivers open," Long said of his team's last two possessions. "They just threw to the wrong receivers."
The Jackets had plenty of success using the wishbone, as Merriweather had 174 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries and Robert Johnson added 65.
But the Hornets held the Jackets when they had to; North Augusta's 14 points were a season-low.
"It's a superior effort," said Smith, whose defense has scored in every one of the Hornets' victories this season. "It's playoff time, and this is when the Aiken defense starts kicking. We're ready for another shot at that state championship."
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645.
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