Photo: Sardis’ Levi Martin (17) makes an interception in front of Douglas’ Keilan Green during the Lions’ 35-21 victory in high school football on Oct. 6 in Sardis City. (Taylor D. Beck/For Sand Mountain Reporter)
By Taylor Beck/For Sand Mountain Reporter
Four interceptions by the Sardis defense propelled Sardis to a 35-21 win against Class 5A, Region 7 foe Douglas on Friday, Oct. 6 in Sardis City.
Despite a 14-point halftime deficit, the visiting Eagles trimmed the Sardis lead to 28-21 and had an opportunity to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. But with 35 seconds left to play in regulation, Lion defensive back Levi Martin intercepted a pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown to seal the victory.
Sardis snaps a three-game losing streak against the Eagles and improved to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in region play.
“I’m just happy to find a way to win again,” said Sardis head coach B.J. Brooks. “Douglas has a great coaching staff, and those guys play so hard. They refuse to let you put them away. We just had a couple more things go our way and made a couple more plays at the end, and I think that was the difference. [Douglas] came out and made adjustments, and we probably didn’t execute the best at times, but hats off to the [Douglas] players and coaches as well. Our defense just found a way to create plays and come up with turnovers. I tell them all the time, whoever is the most physical and protects the ball is probably going to win the game, and that’s what happened for us tonight.”
Sardis jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a pair of interceptions thrown by the Eagles on their first two possessions of the game.
On third down of Douglas’ opening drive, Martin made a circus catch against an Eagles receiver to haul in his first interception of the night at the Lion 45-yard line with 10:23 in the first quarter.
Five plays later, Sardis quarterback Brian Chapman connected with Landon Carroll for a 36-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead with 8:45 on the clock.
On Douglas’ ensuing possession, the offense drove down to the Sardis 30, but after an array of penalties, the Eagles found themselves in a third-and-long situation. That’s when Carson Walls threw his second interception, this time to Carroll at the Sardis 8-yard line.
From there, a 66-yard rush by Lions running back Blaze Gerhart helped set up his 4-yard touchdown run to give Sardis a 14-0 lead with 4:15 remaining in the quarter.
Douglas finally answered on the next possession, driving 83 yards in 12 plays to cut the Lion lead to 14-7 with 11:30 to play in the second quarter. Walls capped off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Logan Puckett.
Not to be denied, Sardis followed up with another scoring drive to take a 21-7 lead into halftime. Gerhart muscled his way into the end zone from nine yards out to cap off a 10-play, 65-yard drive with 7:20 to play in the second quarter.
With a chance to put points on the board before halftime, Douglas’ next drive stalled out at the Sardis 12, where the Eagles failed to convert on fourth down.
The Lions attempted a 25-yard field goal as the second quarter expired, but the kick was wide left.
In the third quarter, Douglas forced a turnover on downs to take over at their own 3-yard line with 6:45 on the clock. The Eagles went 97 yards in 17 plays, maintaining possession into the fourth quarter, to cut the Sardis lead back down to seven points. On fourth and one at the goal line, Douglas running back Cooper Butler rumbled into the end zone to bring the score to 21-14 with 11:54 to play.
About two minutes later, Carson Gillilan took a pass from Chapman 43 yards for a touchdown to extend the Sardis lead back out to 28-14.
On the next possession, a Sardis penalty gave Douglas excellent starting field position to score its third touchdown of the night. From the Eagles 43, the Douglas offense went 57 yards in less than two minutes to cut the Lions lead back to 28-21. With 7:50 to play in regulation, Walls hit Brody Campbell for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
After forcing a Lion punt with 4:30 on the clock, Douglas regained possession at its own 36-yard line with a chance to tie the game. But with 2:28 remaining, Lion defender Alex Davis jumped a flat route and intercepted the football at the Eagles 44.
But Douglas didn’t waver. With sound clock management and a stout defensive effort, the Eagles forced a second-straight Sardis punt, allowing the offense another shot to tie the game before throwing the crucial pick six to Martin.
Gerhart rushed for 202 yards on 24 carries. Levi Martin added 49 yards on five attempts.
Chapman was 10 for 18 in passing for 161 yards. Carroll had four receptions for 69 yards.
Next week, the Lions will continue region play by hosting Scottsboro.