By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Sand Rock Wildcats (2-0, 1-0) slipped by Gaston (1-1, 0-1), 21-14, in Class 2A, Region 7 action on Friday at GHS.
“Their line controlled the line of scrimmage,” Gaston coach Swane Morris said. “I feel this was the big difference in the outcome. However, we did what we had to do and had a chance late in the game to tie it up or take the lead.”
Sand Rock wasted little time in finding pay dirt.
The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and drove 65 yards in eight plays for the game’s first points. Austin Chambers scored on a 4-yard run to give Sand Rock a 6-0 lead.
A bad snap on the PAT resulted in the missed extra point. The big plays in the drive were a 26-yard pass completion from Dylan Mackey to Zane Farrar and a 14-yard strike from Mackey to Isaac Arnold.
Sand Rock appeared to land an early knockout with 8:56 to go in the first half, driving 63 yards in nine plays to increase their lead to 12-0 by way of Chandler Mackey’s 4-yard touchdown run. With a Mackey-to-Chase Garrett two-point conversion pass, Sand Rock appeared to have Gaston on the ropes at 14-0.
But the Bulldogs answered on their next possession, as a 71-yard, seven-plays series ended with Shai Ogles’ 4-yard TD run and Kyler Ballenger’s PAT. The Bulldogs had new life at 14-7 with 5:06 to go in the first half. The drive’s big play was a 51-yard pass from Jordan Douglas to Ogles.
The Bulldogs struck again with :34 remaining in the first half, driving 59 yards in four plays to tie the game at 14-14. A Douglas-to-Ogles pass covered the possession’s final 10 yards. The big play of the drive was a 41 yard run by Jailyn Britton.
On their first possession of the second half, however, the Wildcats regained the lead with 7:18 remaining in the third quarter. Chambers scored his second touchdown of the evening on a four- yard run. Dylan Mackey added the PAT giving the visitors a 21-14 lead.
A 60-yard run by Ogles early in the fourth quarter helped bring Gaston to the Sand Rock 5. But a pair of costly penalties backed the Bulldogs up to the 15, and a quarterback sack on fourth down ended the threat.
“We were able to run the ball and keep the ball away from them late in the game,” Sand Rock coach Russell Jacoway said. “That was the difference.”
For Gaston, Jordan Douglas was 7-of-13 passing for 134 yards and no interceptions. Ogles rushed five times for 76 yards. He also caught three passes for 69 yards and a touchdown.
For Sand Rock, Mackey was 8-of-14 in passing for 145 yards. Chambers rushed 22 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
Sand Rock outgained Gaston, 312 yards to 306, in total offense.
The Bulldogs travel to Section on Friday in another region game.