By Taylor Beck/Sand Mountain Reporter
Head coach Gene Hill and the Sardis Lions gave Class 5A, No. 10 Alexandria all it could handle last Friday (Oct. 4), but fell short of pulling what would have been a historic upset.
It took two overtime periods for the visiting Valley Cubs to escape its Class 5A, Region 6 rival with a 16-10 victory and remain unbeaten. The Lions fall to 3-3 on the season, 2-2 in region play.
After forcing the Lions to go three plays and punt on their opening drive, Alexandria jumped out to a 7-0 lead with under eight minutes left in the first quarter.
On the Valley Cubs’ first play from scrimmage, eighth grader Ronnie Royal took the snap and slipped past the Sardis defense for a 53-yard gain to set up a first down and 10 inside the red zone. Three plays later, Royal powered in for a 2-yard touchdown run. The extra point kick by Grayson Forrest was good.
On the next offensive possession for the Valley Cubs, Sardis held Alexandria to a 25-yard field goal by Forrest. The successful kick gave the Valley Cubs a 10-0 lead with 11:54 remaining in the second quarter.
From that point on, the Lion defense did its best to contain Royal and the Alexandria offense, but it took a while for the Sardis offense to come alive.
With just over a minute left in the first half, the Lions put a field goal through the uprights to cut the deficit to 10-3. The 30-yard kick from David Corbalan Gomez capped off a five-minute, 39-yard drive. Sardis quarterback Jay Owens had completions of 9, 6 and 12 during the series.
Coming out of the halftime break, Alexandria drove inside the Lion 5-yard line but turned the ball over on downs with 8:27 remaining in the third quarter when the Lions defense stuffed Royal just shy of the goal line on fourth down.
Two plays later, however, Alexandria’s Grady Trantham intercepted a pass at the Sardis 9. A penalty against the Valley Cubs set the offense back to start its drive at the 19-yard line but the Sardis defense stopped Alexandria on fourth down a second time, this time just outside the 10-yard line, with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Sardis was forced to punt on its next possession, but Alexandria gave the football back to the Lions four plays later, this time by way of a fumble recovered in the end zone. Royal ripped off a 59-yard run to get the Valley Cubs inside the Sardis 10.
With two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Sardis’ Peyton Wehrwein recovered a fumble. Five plays into the Lions’ ensuing drive, a bad snap was recovered by Alexandria’s JaVarious Williams at the Sardis 30-yard line to begin the fourth quarter.
Five plays into the Valley Cubs’ next offensive series, Michael Turner recovered a fumble at the Sardis 14-yard. With less than six minutes remaining in fourth quarter, the Sardis offense finally was able to roll.
Owens hooked up with Temon Wilson on a hitch and go route for a 14-yard touchdown that capped off a 10-play, 86-yard drive. The successful extra point kick by Gomez tied the game at 10-10.
For the remainder of regulation, the defensive units for Sardis and Alexandria held the offenses in check, forcing overtime.
Sardis won the coin toss and elected to go on defense first. By rule, Alexandria started its overtime possession at the Sardis 10-yard line. After a penalty pushed the Valley Cubs back to the 15, Royal carried the football 10 and four yards down to the Lion 1 for third down and goal. Royal was stuffed for no gain to set up a fourth and goal. The Valley Cubs elected to go for the touchdown, but as soon as Royal took the snap, several Sardis defenders pounced on him behind the line of scrimmage for a turnover on downs.
Sardis only gained one yard in three plays on its overtime possession. Lions attempted a 26-yard field goal to win the game, but the Valley Cubs blocked the kick.
In the second overtime, Sardis started on offense first. After a first down incompletion from Owens, a penalty backed up the Lions to the 15. After another incompletion, a second penalty backed the Lions up to the 20-yard line for third down and goal. An incomplete pass brought up fourth down, and Sardis brought out Gomez to try a field goal. Instead of a kick, the Lions faked and attempted a pass, but it fell incomplete.
On the Valley Cubs’ second overtime possession, the offense went 10 yards in three plays to win the game 16-10. Royal set up the score with runs of 3 and 6 yards, then Wesley Wright snuck into the endzone for a 1-yd score.
The Lions continue region play this Friday (Oct. 11) at Boaz.