Smith grounds Bassick’s hopes of city title

Harding TB D.J. Smith.

Harding TB D.J. Smith.

Thanks to a pair of touchdowns from tailback D.J. Smith and another from Reggie David, Harding edged Bassick 26-20 on Friday at Kennedy Stadium.

Smith led the Presidents with 145 yards — 125 in the first half — on 24 carries. He scored on runs of 35 and 15 yards in the second quarter, helping the Presidents take a 26-14 lead into halftime.

“He ran hard,” Harding interim coach Eddie Santiago said of Smith, a senior. “He took a lot of reps in practice. We felt he was going to be the guy tonight. The last couple weeks he was dealing with an ankle injury.”

The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Harding (3-5) following its 2-0 start. It was also the first since head coach Jack Cochran’s health-releated absence.

David, a senior, added a 1-yard touchdown on the ground. A starter at linebacker as well, David also headed a defense that limited Bassick to six points in the second half.

“He’s the soul of our team. He plays both sides of the ball almost every down. He doesn’t come off,” Santiago said. “He’s our leader.”

In losing, Bassick not only dropped to 1-7, but also missed claiming its first city title since 1990. Although the losing streak has hit three games, head coach Derrick Lewis is pleased with the progress his team’s made, pointing to three losses by 10 points or fewer.

“We’re right there,” Lewis said. “Being our schedule the way it is, we’re beat up now, but we’re pushing.

“I love these kids with the bottom of my heart. They’re my sons. I can never be not proud of what they do, I can only get on them for what they don’t do right.”