By DeWayne Patterson/For Daily Sentinel
North Sand Mountain football put together a late rally to defeat Gaston, 24-20, in Class 2A, Region 7 game on Friday (Sept. 20) in Higdon.
After the Bison (3-1, 2-1) cut the Gaston lead to 20-17 with 1:15 left in the game, half of the stadium lights went out. North Sand Mountain coach Adam Gilbert and Gaston coach Swane Morris met and agreed to finish the game.
On the next play, kicker Joseph Alonzo laid down a perfectly executed onside kick, which Michael Farber recovered. Four plays later, quarterback Cody McBryar connected with Dexx Walsh, who made a over-the-shoulder catch for a 22-yard touchdown. Alonzo’s kick made it 24-20 with 38.5 seconds left.
Gaston rushed for 250 yards on 45 total carries. Penalties, however, hurt the Bulldogs, who were flagged 14 for 105 yards.
Gaston (2-2, 1-2) used speed and power in built a 14-3 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs took their first drive of the night and marched 68 yards, all on the ground, for the game’s first score.
Jailyn Britton capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Kyler Ballenger kicked the PAT to make it 7-0 with 4:30 left in the first half.
The Thundering Herd cut it to 7-3 on Alonzo’s 32-yard field goal in the second quarter. But Gaston added a second touchdown when Braxton Collins scored on a 13-yard run. Ballenger’s PAT made it 14-3 at halftime.
The second half proved a different story, as NSM rallied behind the play of McBryar.
The senior quarterback completed passes of 17 and 28 yards to Ean Miles and Austin Cummins respectively. Walsh capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. A try for two points failed, leaving the Bison down 14-9 with 2:43 left in the third quarter.
Gaston looked to put the game away midway through the fourth quarter, driving 75 yards in 10 plays and eating up four minutes of the clock. Collins eventually scored his second touchdown on a two-yard run. Ben Britt blocked the PAT, but Gaston had the lead at 20-9 with 2:25 left.
The NSM rally began when McBryar connected with Jordan Harmon for a 49-yard completion to the Gaston 15. After a pass interference penalty, McBryar threw it up for Cummins, who grabbed the ball for a 7-yard touchdown. McBryar and Cummins hooked up again for the two-point conversion, cutting the lead to 20-17, setting up the game winner.
For Gaston, Collins finished with 137 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Shai Ogles added 78 yards on seven carries, while Britton gained 52 yards and a score on 11 carries.
Gaston takes a break from region play on Friday with a home game against Wadley.