Lions roar past Hokes Bluff for first region win

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By Chris McCarthy/Editor

Using a potent running game mixed with a sharp aerial attack, Sardis ran out to a 35-7 lead en route to a 49-21 win over Hokes Bluff in a Class 4A, Region 7 game on Friday at Hokes Bluff.

By halftime, the Lions (2-2, 1-2) had already rolled up 408 total yards, including 235 on the ground. Sardis scored on the first five of its six first-half possessions to take a 35-14 at intermission. 

“We felt like we could run the ball tonight, and I felt that us pounding it like that in the second half got them a little tired,” said Sardis head coach Gene Hill. “We also threw the ball effective, which we haven’t done up to this point. I felt that Logan and our receivers played well in the first half, which opened up the running game for us. Our line also blocked really well.” 

108 of Hokes Bluff’s 132 total first half yards came on a pair of long touchdown passes. Other than those two plays, the hosts managed just 25 yards of offense over the initial two quarters.

“We’re not good enough right now to give up big plays like that, so we have to get that corrected,” said Hill. 

Keenan Lewis accounted for 110 of his rushing yards in the first two quarters. He finished with 164 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

“Keenan was about 65 to 70 percent healthy last week and tonight he was about 90 percent,” said Hill. “He adds a dimension to our offense as far as his vision and his cuts and his speed.” 

Jesse Hubbard finished with 158 total yards and four touchdowns, He rushed seven times for 85 yards and three scores and caught four passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback Logan Gaskin was 9 of 15 in passing for 156 yards, all in the first half.

Sardis found the end zone on its second play from scrimmage, a 33-yard touchdown pass from Gaskin to Austin Hallmark at 9:28 of the first quarter. Sawyer Cahela added the PAT.

Following an Eagle punt, the Lions drove 88 yards in 14 plays to make it 14-0, with Lewis taking it in from the seven yards out at 3:27. 

A 36-yard run from Hallmark and a 31-yard scamper by Hubbard on the next Sardis series helped bring the ball to the Hokes Bluff 2-yard line, where Hubbard ran it in and Cahela kicked the extra point for a 21-point advantage at the 8:46 mark of the second quarter. 

Just 16 seconds later, however, Johnson and Andrew Colley teamed up for a 63-yard scoring pass that drew the hosts within 21-7 with Bradley Pruett. 

But Sardis went right back to work on the next possession. Lewis ripped off 36-yard run on the first play, and Hubbard capped off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run that pushed the Lion lead to 29-7 with five minutes remaining in the half. Gaskin and Bryan Noblitt teamed up for the two-point conversion. 

Sardis scored just 13 seconds later when Drew Scott’s interception on the Eagles’ first play led to Gaskin’s 53-yard touchdown pass to Hubbard at 3:15.

Hokes Bluff promptly answered with a 45-yard scoring strike from Johnson to Phillip Ward that trimmed the Lion lead to 35-14 at the half. 

The Lions went to the ground game exclusively in the second half, controlling the clock all but two minutes of the third quarter while wearing down the Eagle defense. Sardis built a 29-point lead by way of Hubbard’s 18-yard touchdown run with 1:40 left in the period. The Lions tacked on a final score on Lewis’ 10-yard run at 9:30 of the fourth frame.

Hokes Bluff’s final drive of the night yielded Johnson’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Pruett with 1:12 left in the game.

“They had the ball the while first half, and they just outplayed us,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Mike Robertson. “But we came back in the second half and didn’t quit. But it’s obvious that [Sardis] was the better team tonight. We just have work on getting to the ball a little quicker.” 

Johnson completed was 8 for 14 in passing for 175 yards and three touchdowns.

“Tonight was the most complete we’ve played game so far,” said Hill. “The second game was better then the first and the third was better than the second one, so we’re making progress.”

Sardis hosts Geraldine next week, while Hokes Bluff hosts Glencoe. 

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