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FOOTBALL: Travis Smith’s Six Touchdowns Help Earn Ithaca It’s Fourth Straight State Title, 41-22 Over Clinton

By: Branden Hunter, November 30, 2013, 4:19 am

DETROIT – Not one. Not two. Not three. But four. 

The Yellowjackets of Ithaca have done what no other program in the state of Michigan has done in any other division. Win an unprecedented four Division 6 state titles in a row.

In front of what seemed like all 2,800 or more citizens of the small town, Ithaca took care of Clinton 44-21, while making a little history along the way.

"They gave us everything that we expected," said Ithaca head coach Terry Hessbrook of Clinton. "They’re every bit as good as advertised, but we’re fortunate to be sitting up here with our 56th win in a row."

Ithaca jumped off to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and looked like it was going to runaway early. After quarterback Travis Smith tossed a 15- yard touchdown to Josh Hafner, Smith had a pick six on the ensuing possession.

The Toledo commit was 17-27 for 247 yards to go along with four passing touchdowns.  Smith also ran for 123 yards on 26 carries and a score, finishing the game with seven total touchdowns.

"We had a huge target on our backs and we all knew that as a team," Smith said. "We left the whole winning streak thing with the community, and focused on the team at hand."

Ithaca hadn’t lost a game since 2009 and Clinton almost put a stop to that record, storming back in the second.

After cutting the lead to 14-8, Mathew Sexton returned a punt for 86-yards and a touchdown, giving the Redskins a 15-14 lead with 49 seconds left in the first.

The two teams traded leads just before the half when Smith tallied his third touchdown on a  5- yard pass to Eli Villalobos to make it. 22-15 at the half. 

Clinton responded with a score of their own on their own to open the second half. Colin Poore capped off a five play 80-yard d
8-yard run to take the 22-21 lead with 10:17 left in the third.

That would it for Clinton scoring wise, as the Ithaca defense was able to adjust and shut the out the rest of the way. 

"We really decided to get after them defensively in the option," Hessbrook said. "We just decided to bring the pressure a lot harder, and talk a lot during halftime about being more physical on the edge."

Clinton out gained Ithaca on the ground 254 to 172, but the 247 passing yards by Smith to Clinton’s 63 made the difference.

Ithaca reeled off 20 unanswered points the rest of the way, making the game all but over. Smith tossed his third and fourth touchdown passes of the day on a 13-yarder  to Hafner again in the third, and the other came with 6:17 left in the third on a 21-yard pass to Logan Hessbrook. 

Smith added a 10-yard run for a touchdown late in the fourth to seal the 41-21 victory and fourth straight state title for Ithaca.

"It’s very special," Smith said. "I was up as a freshman watching Alex (Niznak) getting his state championship as a senior, and back then I wanted to be Alex."

 "I wanted to get my ring as a senior and here I am today, so it’s just a so special feeling."

Much like Smith was handed the team his sophomore year by Niznak, his younger brother Jake will try to match his accomplishments at Ithaca, as he is set to takeover at quarterback in    2014.

"I told coach Hess that I really wanted my brother to get in there," Wilson said. because I knew I’d be handing off the team to him today .

"I really wanted him to get in there and see what’s it like to play quarterback at Ford Field ."