By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter
DAR stunned Class 4A, Region 7 leader Sardis on Friday (Oct. 13), upsetting the Lions 31-21 to spoil their 2017 homecoming game in Sardis City.
Will Bailey, Nathan Nelson and Brayden Lewis powered the Patriots, who entered the contest without a region victory. DAR improved to 4-3 and 1-3.
The loss snapped the Lions’ four-game winning streak and prevented them from clinching a state playoff berth. Sardis is 4-3, 3-1.
The game was called with 47.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Members of the Sardis coaching staff said they received no explanation for why the game was called.
The game’s unusual ending followed a trio of penalties on the Lions.
The officiating crew ejected a Sardis player for a personal foul on a DAR punt, which angered Lions’ head coach Gene Hill. Hill then received consecutive unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after arguing the call and was ejected.
The first play of the game proved to be a barometer of things to come for the Lions, who lost a fumble inside their 40-yard line. Sardis finished with four turnovers.
Bailey scrambled for a 3-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal with 8:02 left in the opening quarter. Andrew Veach added the extra point.
The Lions drove to the DAR 10 early in the second period, but quarterback Logan Gaskin was sacked for a 6-yard loss on fourth-and-4 with 11:04 remaining.
DAR marched 84 yards in six plays. Lewis pitched to Bailey, who sprinted 45 yards to the end zone with 8:31 left. Veach kicked it to 14-0.
Sardis responded by driving to the Patriot 20 but Andrew Naugher forced and recovered a fumble at the 37, thwarting the Lions’ fourth-down conversion.
DAR moved 63 yards in three plays, the last one a 25-yard run by Nelson with 2:16 to go. Veach’s extra point gave the Pats a 21-0 advantage.
Noah Smith’s interception stopped Sardis’ last drive of the opening half.
The Sardis defense dropped Braden Nickell for a 4-yard loss on fourth down from the Lion 26 on the opening series of the second half.
The Sardis offense took over and moved 70 yards in six plays. Gaskin capped the drive by rifling a 42-yard touchdown pass to Josh Maynard. Javen Smith’s extra point trimmed it to 21-7 with 7:22 left.
Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards, setting up Veach’s 24-yard field goal at the five-minute mark.
Sardis’ Lukas Morris returned the kickoff 31 yards to DAR’s 46. Ten plays later, Jake Ross ran one yard on a reverse on fourth-and-goal with 40.7 seconds left in the third period. Smith’s conversion shaved it to 24-14.
DAR answered with a 71-yard scoring drive. Nelson burst through a hole up the middle for a 25-yard TD run with nine minutes left in the contest. Veach kicked it 31-14.
Smith’s second interception of the night halted a Sardis drive at the DAR 17. The Lion defense held and forced a short punt, giving the offense the ball at the DAR 46.
Sardis scored in 10 plays, as Gaskin hit Mason Golden with a 4-yard TD pass across the middle of the end zone with 2:38 remaining. Smith’s kick cut it to 31-21.
The Lions converted a fourth-and-20 on Gaskin’s 25-yard pass to Chase Bright during the drive.
Gaskin completed 16-of-29 passes for 194 yards. Golden caught five passes for 68 yards.
DAR’s Bailey rushed 14 times for 82 yards. He was 11-of-17 passing for 84 yards.
Nelson had 17 carries for 107 yards. Lewis rushed for 58 yards on four attempts and caught six passes for 45 yards.
Sardis continues region play this week at home against Madison County.