Lions fall to Geraldine

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  By Bradley Roberts/Sand Mountain Reporter

A pair of late fourth quarter interceptions by Geraldine defensive back Austin Willoughby put an end to any last-minute heroics by Sardis on Friday, as the Bulldogs exited Sardis City with a 21-12 victory.

Geraldine improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in Class 3A Region 7, while Sardis dropped to 2-3 and 1-2 in Class 4A, Region 6.

Geraldine got the scoring started first with 3:18 left in the first quarter. Senior running back Damion Totherow found the end zone with his first of a pair of touchdowns, diving between the tackles from less than a yard out. 

Roberto Chavez was a perfect 3-for-3 on extra points for the night, and his first gave Geraldine the early 7-0 lead.

After the kickoff, the Lions took over at the 33. They handed the ball three straight times to Keenan Lewis and moved the ball into Geraldine territory at the 44-yard line.

On first down, the Lions ran a flea flicker, handing the ball off first to running back Jesse Hubbard, who flipped the ball back to his quarterback, freshman Logan Gaskin. Gaskin then aired the ball down field to junior receiver Austin Hallmark for the 44-yard touchdown pass.

The snap on the extra point attempt flew over the head of Gaskin, and with 1:28 left in the first quarter the Lions trailed 7-6.

In the second quarter, both defenses started to settle down a bit.

The Lions got the ball after an eight-play Bulldog drive proved unsuccessful but were unable to do anything with the ball as well.

The Lion punter, senior Sawyer Cahela, launched the ball to inside the Geraldine 5, where the fair catch went through the arms of the returner, Willoughby. 

A couple of Sardis defenders fell on top of the ball, and the Lions took over at the 2.

Hubbard took the ball up the middle and the score went to 12-7 in favor of the home team. The two-point conversion attempt was no good, and the Lions took the lead into the locker room at halftime.

Geraldine took over after a Sardis punt midway through the third quarter and slowly started to pick away at the Lions’ defense. A few runs from Totherow and junior Bryan Jimenez set up a Bulldog first and goal from the 3.

Jimenez got in on the scoring action with his own rushing TD, and the extra point made the lead 14-12 Bulldogs with 5:30 left in the third.

The Bulldogs carried the lead into the fourth quarter, and after both teams exchanged unsuccessful drives, Geraldine appeared to finally be wearing down the Lions’ defense.

The Bulldogs took over at their own 40-yard line, and after a pair of 14 and 13-yard runs to Jimenez and Willoughby, the Bulldogs found themselves in the Lions’ red zone.

But the Lions defense stood strong, stuffing Totherow on first, second and third down. The Bulldogs lined up to go for it on fourth and 7. Quarterback Jake Maddox took the keeper, only to find himself less than six inches short of moving the chains.

After a big defensive stop deep in their own territory, the Lions found themselves with the ball and a chance to pull ahead of the Bulldogs late in the game.

The Lions ran the ball out from their own 7-yard line, alternating carries between Lewis and Hubbard. 

But Sardis’ head coach Gene Hill decided to Gaskin to air the ball out. Gaskin rolled out to his left and his pass went past his receiver and into the arms of Willoughby.

The Bulldogs took over with 4:39 left in the game. Totherow swept right on the first play of the drive and took the ball 17 yards down to the Sardis 3. He then punched it in for the final score of the game with 2:22 left in the game.

The Lions needed two scores, but there wasn’t enough time on the clock. As time expired, Gaskin took one last shot at the end zone, only to give Willoughby his second takeaway on the night.

For Sardis, Gaskin completed 9-of-10 passes for 112 yards, while Hallmark had five catches for 92 yards.

Hubbard rushed for 74 yards on 15 carries, while Lewis ran 10 times for 52 yards. 

Sardis hosts White Plains next week in another region matchup.

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