Photo: Etowah High’s Trent Davis (3) tries to break free from Sardis’ Michael Turner during the Blue Devils’ 36-0 victory last Friday (Sept. 14) in Attalla. (Travis Greene)
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Derickey Wright made his presence known early and often as he led Class 5A, No. 2 Etowah to a 36-0 victory over Sardis in a Region 6 matchup last Friday (Sept. 14) at Jim Glover Field in Attalla.
On the first play from scrimmage, Wright intercepted a pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown. The Blue Devils (4-0, 2-0) took an early 6-0 lead with 11:38 remaining in the opening quarter.
Two drives later, Wright scored his second defensive touchdown of the night on a 52-yard scoop and score after a Sardis fumble. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and Etowah held a 12-0 lead with 7:31 left in the first quarter.
Sardis (1-2, 0-2) started its fifth drive of the night in Etowah territory after Temon Wilson came up with an interception. However, the Blue Devils forced a quick three-and-out, and the Lions had to punt.
The Sardis offense could not sustain a drive in the first half and could not take advantage of several Etowah penalties. The Lion defense shut down the Blue Devil offense for most of the first half, but Etowah made a quarterback change in the second quarter that made an immediate impact.
On Wright’s first snap at quarterback in the game, he sprinted down the left sideline for a 32-yard run. Etowah moved the ball into Sardis territory but multiple penalties forced the hosts to punt the ball back to the Lions.
When the Blue Devils received the ball following another Sardis punt, however, Wright quickly guided the Etowah offense down the field. On third-and-18, Wright evaded several defenders and scampered down the sideline for a first down. Wright continued making plays with his feet and eventually scored from one-yard out to extend the lead to 18-0. Wright connected on a fade to receiver Emil Smith on the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 20-0 entering halftime.
Sardis forced a three-and-out on Etowah’s opening possession of the second half and started driving the ball on the Blue Devils. However, Wright picked off another pass and returned it 62 yards for his fourth touchdown of the night to give Etowah a 27-0 lead.
The Blue Devils added two more points on a safety after a snap sailed over the Sardis punter’s head. Later in the third quarter, Brady Troup found Deaundrea Williams for a 47-yard touchdown for the game’s final points. Etowah led 36-0 with 4:57 remaining in the third quarter, and the Blue Devils ran out the clock on their remaining possessions of the game.
Etowah coach Drew Noles didn’t think his team played well offensively but pointed out that the Lions had the best defense the Blue Devils have seen all year.
“I think that’s nine or 10 non-offensive touchdowns on the year,” Noles said. “We played terrible offensively, but we knew (Sardis) had the best defense we’ve seen to this point. Their defensive line is really good. They did a good job, and we didn’t. We didn’t execute anything offensively, but I did think we played hard. I didn’t like the penalties. It was sloppy, very sloppy.”
Wright was the difference in the game on both sides of the ball. He scored three times defensively and added seven carries for 69 yards and a score on offense.
Noles praised Wright, noting he is a difference maker for the Blue Devils.
“Wow, what a night,” Noles said. “(Wright) had a great night. Four touchdowns on the night, three on defense. His stock went way up tonight. He did things the right way. He came in at quarterback and gave us a little spark. He’s definitely a big-time player for us.
“It’s a big win for us,” Wright said. “We are 2-0 in the region now and 4-0 overall. It’s a very big win for us and gives us momentum for the next game.”
Williams caught two passes for 54 yards and a score for Etowah.
Sardis coach Gene Hill said he was proud of the way his team fought but acknowledged that the Lions simply made too many mistakes to beat a team as talented as Etowah.
“I thought our kids played hard,” Hill said. “(Etowah) is as advertised. They’re really good on defense. I knew coming down here we couldn’t give them anything, and we gave them three scores. You can’t do that with a football team like (Etowah).
“We didn’t get much going on offense. We didn’t hold our blocks, and (Etowah) has a lot of speed. It’s the first team we’ve seen with that kind of speed on defense. Hopefully, we learned something from it.”
Sardis only mustered 23 yards of total offense on the night. Running back Drew Vaughn led the way with 30 carries for 36 yards, and the Lions had over a dozen plays that went for negative yardage.
The Lions return home for another Class 5A, Region 6 game against Douglas on Friday, Sept. 21. Etowah travels to take on Southside in a battle of two undefeated teams in region play.