Having talked to folks in the Fort Wayne area prior to coming to town, I was lead to believe the Harding-Wayne contest was to be anything but that.
The Generals were considered a heavy underdog to the Roderick Smith lead Hawks, but as they often say, that's why they play the games.
Smith did not disappoint early on. After Wayne took an early 3-0 lead, he slashed his way to two long touchdown runs to put up Harding up 14-6. However, a tough Wayne team held him in check for the rest of the second half, evening the board at 14 heading into halftime.
Harding came out in the second half and rode their workhorse and Smith came through, scoring his third touchdown of the game, another long run.
Wayne again would not go away. The Generals, down 20-14, marched to a score and hit the extra point to go up 21-20 with only five minutes to go.
Smith, who had been bothered by cramps earlier in the half, helped get his team into scoring position. On an outside run, he got inside the 20, but was horse collared on the play and stayed down in pain before returning to the game. Three plays later, he was into the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the game to put the Hawks up 26-21.
A late drive by Wayne into Harding territory was stopped by the Hawks' defense (with Smith at safety). The injury, which turned out to be a groin pull, would not keep a gutsy Smith off the field for the final plays.
"I couldn't let my tean down in the first game," he said, "We made some mistakes, but we played hard for four quarters and I'm happy to get the win."
Smith finished with 271 yards on 26 carries and four touchdowns.
Scout.com will have video, photos, scouting reports and more from Fort Wayne in the coming days.