By Lionel Green/Sand Mountain Reporter
Sardis scored 33 unanswered second-half points en route to a 45-7 win over Crossville in Class 4A, Region 6 action last Friday at Sardis Stadium.
Sardis (2-1, 2-0) only led 12-7 at halftime, but the Lions (2-1, 2-0) scored touchdowns on five of their six drives after intermission. The Sardis defense held Crossville to 56 total yards in a scoreless second half.
Sardis ended with 321 yards rushing on the night.
“I felt like defensively we were playing good, one of our better ball games,” said Sardis head coach Gene Hill. “We got in a bad situation to give up seven in the first half. The first half we shot ourselves in the foot. We had three turnovers on offense, and I just don’t think mentally we were in the game. We came out in the second half and did what we had to do.”
Sardis led 12-0 early on a 1-yard scoring run by Toby Pee and a 44-yard touchdown sprint by Jesse Hubbard.
Crossville trimmed the lead when Avery Ross intercepted a Will Scott pass and returned the ball 41 yards to the Sardis 4. Ty Cole followed with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Pierce Jones. Luis Garcia’s extra point pulled Crossville within 12-7.
Crossville held Sardis in check in the first half by forcing three turnovers. In addition to Ross’ interception, Crossville’s Kyle Kilgo recovered a fumble and intercepted a Scott pass.
Sardis recorded two first-half takeaways. Colton Salers recovered a fumble and Hubbard intercepted a Cole pass.
The second half was all Sardis, as Pee started the scoring from one yard out on the opening drive for an 18-7 lead.
Dylan Whitlock recovered a fumble at the Crossville 11, setting up a 6-yard touchdown run by Pee and a 24-7 Sardis lead.
Scott tossed a 5-yard scoring pass to Hubbard on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 30-7 Sardis lead.
Scott launched a 70-yard scoring pass to Jared Shirley on a third-and-37 at the 6:13 mark of the fourth. Juan Ramos ran in the 2-point conversion, giving Sardis a 38-7 lead.
Logan Hilbrandt recovered a fumble at the Crossville 5, leading to a five-yard Hubbard touchdown run with 2:17 left in the game. Sawyer Cahela kicked the extra point to cap the scoring at 45-7.
Pee led the Sardis offense with 168 yards on 27 carries, while Hubbard added 90 yards on nine rushes.
Scott finished 14-of-23 passing for 157 yards, including 9-of-10 for 114 yards in the second half.
After giving up 83 points in its first two games, the Sardis defense rose to the occasion, holding Crossville to 46 total yards rushing on 26 carries, for an average of 1.8 yards per carry.
“The first two weeks we’ve given up way too many points and we’ve really been working on defense,” Hill said. “I think the biggest thing is they played with a lot of effort and some emotion. They were flying to the football.”
Pee now has 664 yards in three games.
“Everybody’s going to key on Toby,” Hill said. “Crossville did a good job as far as slowing him down. We didn’t block as good as we’ve been blocking up front. Crossville made some good plays and kind of shut our running game down a little bit, and we didn’t throw the ball as good as we’ve been throwing it.”
Hill said Hubbard’s performance was a plus.
“You’ve got Hubbard who did some things, and you’re going to start seeing more of that, I think, to take some heat off Toby,” Hill said.
The win is Sardis’ sixth straight over Crossville. Sardis leads the series 26-25-1.
Sardis visits Douglas on Friday in region action.