By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Oneonta certainly justified its No. 1 state ranking last Friday (Oct. 26).
With the Class 4A, Region 6 championship on the line, Sardis’ hopes for a second straight region title were dashed by way of a 49-0 thrashing by the top-ranked Redskins.
The Lions (6-3, 5-2) ended up as the region’s third seed and will travel in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs on Nov. 9.
Sardis had not been shut out since Week 2 of the 2005 season, a span of 85 games.
The Redskins (9-0, 7-0) scored six touchdowns on their first seven possessions. The visitors led 21-0 after the first quarter and 35-0 at halftime.
Sardis, who came into the game averaging 445 yards and 44 points per game, were out-gained 207 to 32 in the first quarter alone. The hosts managed just four yards in the third quarter and 56 for the entire second half.
The Redskins finished with a 365 to 201 advantage in total yardage.
Out of the Lions’ 11 offensive possessions, six ended in punts, two were cut short by turnovers and two fizzled out on failed fourth down conversion attempts.
Sardis head coach Gene Hill acknowledged that Oneonta dominated his squad in every phase of the game.
“I just didn’t have us ready to play. I was disappointed in some of our play, and I’m responsible for that. [Oneonta] took it to us early and got us in a big hole. We turned the ball over a couple of times, and we knew couldn’t do that if we wanted to play with this bunch. But we played a great football team tonight, and you have to give Oneonta credit.”
Senior halfback Toby Pee, who left the game midway through the second quarter after taking a helmet to his knee, was held to six yards on seven carries. He did have four receptions for 31 yards before departing.
“We took him out as a precautionary measure,” said Hill. “He wasn’t at full speed and there was no sense leaving him in there at that point and risking further injury.”
For Sardis, Will Scott completed 19-of-26 passes for 156 yards, while Jared Shirley had eight catches for 87 yards.
Matters started badly for the hosts and only got worse as the game progressed.
The Redskins took the opening kickoff and marched 52 yards in seven plays to pay dirt.
Alvin Scott ran it in on a first and goal from the Lion 6, and the first of Michael Short’s seven extra points made it 7-0 in favor of the Blount County squad at 8:13 of the first quarter.
Quarterback Cody O’Toole went 4-for-4 on the drive, including a 22-yard completion that brought the ball inside the Lion 10.
After Sardis gained 10 yards on three plays on the Lions’ initials series, Oneonta used a 29-yard run from Tyler Smith to reach the Sardis 15, from where O’Toole and Garrison Latta hooked up for a touchdown pass and a 14-0 lead at 5:21.
The Redskins soon put the hosts in a 21-point hole, as Smith’s 46-yard run set up O’Toole’s five-yard scoring strike to Scott with 1:27 left in the initial period.
Sardis’ third possession ended after two plays when Jalen Johnson returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown at 11:22 of the second quarter.
It took only two plays for Oneonta to find the end zone on the next Redskin drive, as O’Toole and Scott connected on another TD pass, this time from 52 yards out with 6:21 remaining until halftime.
The hosts then put together their longest series of the night, but the six-minute, 15-play possession ended on the Redskin 7 on a failed fourth and goal attempt.
Any thoughts of a Sardis comeback ended when the Lions went three-and-out on the second half’s opening series. The following Oneonta drive ended after three plays on O’Toole’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Johnson at the 9:20 mark of the third quarter.
The Redskins tacked on another score later in the period on Javon Russell’s four-yard TD run.
O’Toole completed 8-of-12 passes for 148 yards, while Scott had four catches for 93 yards.
Smith led Oneonta on the gourd with 173 yards on 14 carries.
Sardis wraps up the regular season on Friday with a visit to Sand Mountain neighbor Boaz.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re going to get it corrected this week [in practice],” said Hill. “I promise you that you’ll see a different football team next week.”