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Back's 9 TDs still not enough

Someday, James Wright knows it will click. Someday, the football coach at tiny Hughes High School in eastern Arkansas will think back to what he witnessed Friday the 13th and have an explanation. Or at least an understanding.

But for now, he's not quite there. And how could he be? Wright, a 38-year high school coach, witnessed one of the most jaw-dropping individual performances in high school football history Friday when one of his running backs, senior Kendric Smith, rushed for an Arkansas state record nine touchdowns.

And lost.

"We got to scoring, they got to scoring, and before long we had no idea what was going on," Wright said. "I had no idea Kenny was scoring that many touchdowns. I was just trying to win the dadgum game."

The game was tied 66-66 at the end of regulation when Smith opened the overtime with his record-setting ninth touchdown of the game, this one from 1 yard out. But Hughes has just 15 kids out for football. There is no kicker. And the two-point conversion attempt failed.

East Poinsett County had its chance to score, responding with a 2-yard touchdown run and a kick for the extra point.

Final score: East Poinsett County 73, Hughes High 72.

When the two head coaches met at midfield after the game, all they could do was laugh.

"Neither one of us could believe it," Wright said. "It's just one of those things that happens once in a lifetime. I've never seen that before, and I'll never see it again."

Wright said he tried everything on defense, from stunts to blitzes to double coverage. But one of his corners is only 5-foot-3, he said, and East Poinsett took advantage of the mismatch. East Poinsett quarterback Brett Hardin had 835 all-purpose yards.

"If you're 6 feet tall, you're going to get the ball unless he hurts you," Wright said. "And he's not going to hurt anybody.

"But our kids didn't seem to mind. Each time they'd score, we'd score right back."

Thanks to Smith. The senior ran for 425 yards and would have scored a 10th touchdown if not for a Hughes penalty. He also went both ways, playing every down on defense, adding an interception to his gaudy offensive totals.

"I feel really great about the way I played," Smith said. "It was a lot of fun. But it was a difficult situation because we really wanted to win that game."

That's because Hughes -- which has a 38-12 record in the past four years, with four playoff appearances -- has struggled mightily in the move to the Arkansas Activities Association's larger Class AAA, going winless this season in its first four games. East Poinsett also entered last week's game without a victory.

Hughes is still looking for that elusive first win. But in its place is a game that will be talked about for decades.

"As we were driving home on the bus, it sort of started to hit me," Wright said. "And I turned to one of my assistants and said, 'What we witnessed tonight was pretty darn exceptional.'

"Ten, 15 years from now, these kids are going to look back on that game and get a good laugh. And so am I."

Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@espn3.com.