By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter
The Guntersville Wildcats seized control of their destiny in the Class 4A, Region 6 playoff race by defeated unbeaten and 10th-ranked Sardis 35-13 Friday (Oct. 4).
The host Wildcats improved to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the region standings by winning their fourth consecutive game. Sardis dropped to 5-1 and 3-1.
The Lions and Wildcats are tied for second in the standings behind leader Oneonta. Guntersville now owns the tiebreaker over Sardis.
GHS controlled both lines of scrimmage. The ‘Cats’ ground game rolled up 405 yards, powered by Jordan Bentley with 26 carries for 173 yards. He also scored his 19th and 20th touchdowns of the season.
Quarterback Gunner Lemons ran 15 times for 134 yards, and Lee Menefee rushed four times for 82 yards and three touchdowns.
Guntersville’s defense turned up the pressure on Sardis quarterback Will Scott, never allowing him to establish a rhythm. Scott finished 13-of-23 in passing for 139 yards and a touchdown. Brett Rains had six catches for 94 yards.
Sardis managed just 100 yards on the ground, led by Keenan Lewis with 13 carries for 84 yards.
Menefee took a handoff and dashed 68 yards for his first touchdown with 7:59 left in the opening period. Edson Jaramillo kicked it to 7-0.
Sardis answered with its only scoring drive. The Lions moved 60 yards in seven plays, capped by Scott’s 45-yard TD pass to Rains.
Ernesto Cordova burst through the line and blocked the extra point, leaving GHS in front 7-6 with 4:37 remaining in the first period.
Menefee’s 23-yard punt return put the Wildcats’ offense in business at Sardis’ 33-yard line.
Menefee closed a seven-play drive with a tough 6-yard touchdown run around right end. Jaramillo’s conversion made it 14-6 with 7:41 to go in the second quarter.
Guntersville drove 83 yards in seven plays to extend its advantage to 21-6.
Lemons ripped off a 31-yard gain, and Bentley finished off the drive with a 31-yard TD run around left end. Jaramillo added the extra point at the 2:46 mark of the second period.
Scott opened the second half with three straight completions to Rains, moving the Lions to Guntersville’s 46.
But the drive stalled, and Sardis failed on a fourth-and-seven conversion from the GHS 43.
The ‘Cats marched 57 yards in nine plays to make it 28-6.
Menefee lined up in the Wildcat formation, took the snap and dived into the end zone on a 6-yard run with 4:26 remaining in the third period. Jaramillo’s point-after was good.
Sardis responded with a four-play, 67-yard drive, highlighted by Lewis’ 58-yard sprint to the GHS 2-yard line.
The Lions were penalized 5 yards on first-and-goal. Lewis burst into the end zone on second-and-goal from the 3 with 3:03 left in the third.
Tim Kalascheck hit the PAT, trimming it to 28-13.
Guntersville’s Brad Hampton intercepted a halfback pass at the Sardis 44 with 6:30 remaining in the game.
Three plays later, Bentley scored on a 12-yard run. Jaramillo kicked it to 35-13 with 5:40 on the clock.
Sardis defensive starters Jesse Hubbard, Trent Noojin and Dalton Casey missed the game with injuries.
Hubbard is the Lions’ leading tackler on the season.
Sardis continues region play next week at home against St. Clair County.