By Taylor Beck/For Sand Mountain Reporter
Sardis High found itself down 17-0 early in the second half to region foe and No. 8 Madison Academy but the Lions roared back to upset the Mustangs, 18-17, last Friday (Sept.8) in Sardis City.
In the past two weeks, Sardis (1-2, 1-0) suffered single-digit losses at the hands of Plainview and Sylvania, and the Lions found themselves in a similar situation on Friday.
“I tried telling them at halftime that I really didn’t believe we could beat this bunch,” Sardis head coach Gene Hill said. “[We] didn’t really play well. We came back in the second half and said, ‘Let’s just play as hard as we can play, as good as we can play, and see what happens.’
“I think the score gave us some momentum and gave us a little bit of confidence,” Hill continued. “[Our] defense played pretty well for the most part you take out a couple of big runs.”
The Lions fell behind early after giving up a 74-yard touchdown run by Mustang junior running back Daniel Brent with 5:08 remaining in the first quarter.
Madison Academy punched in a second touchdown run by senior running back Bronson Schad to go up 14-0 with 9:16 left in the second quarter.
After halftime, the Mustang senior kicker Sean Dorney knocked down a 45-yard field goal on its opening drive to give themselves a 17-point cushion.
That’s when the Lions flipped the switch.
With 6:09 left on the clock in the third quarter, Sardis drove down the field and found the end zone on a physical 4-yard run by junior running back Drew Vaughn to put the score at 17-6.
Coming off an injury, Sardis senior quarterback Logan Gaskin struggled during the first two quarters, completing only 6 of 19 passes for 47 yards. He shook off the rust in the second half, however, going 9-of-14 for 162 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chase Bright with 9:25 left in the game to close the gap to 17-12.
“In the beginning of this game, we got down 17-0,” Gaskin said. “[It was] no big thing for us. Coach [Hill] told us [that] we just have to keep doing what we’re doing, believe in ourselves and get in the end zone.”
In the next series, the Lion defense took over and forced the Mustang offense to go three-and-out, giving the Sardis offense more than enough time to score. Seventeen plays and more than five minutes later, senior receiver Jake Ross took an end-around from 10 yards out to put the hosts ahead 18-17 with 1:08 left in the ballgame.
Madison Academy sophomore quarterback Luke Nail led the Mustangs down the field to the Sardis 27-yard line to give Dorney a shot at a 44-yard kick with 24.9 seconds left, but he came up short.
It was the Lions’ first win of the season and could very well wind up as the biggest of the year, but Hill said his team must continue to improve.
“We’ve had two tough losses and the kids have played hard,” Hill said. “This was one of those games in that if you lose it in the last second, it could make or break your season. A region game doesn’t get any bigger than this. We can take that confidence, but we’ve got to keep getting better. If we keep getting better, we’ve got a chance.”
Gaskin was excited to get to be back out on the field and get the team’s first victory of the season.
“We’ve had so many tough losses this season,” he said. “I’m happy to come out here and get this win with my team. There was no one that had us in this game, but we believe in ourselves. Our offensive motto is ‘Do you believe?’ We believe.”
Sardis visits Geraldine next week in a non-region game.