By Bradley Roberts/For Sand Mountain Reporter
Despite losing three straight fumbles on three straight possessions in the second half, Sardis High still found itself with the ball and a chance to win late in the fourth quarter. A stout Geraldine defense wouldn’t have it, however, and the Bulldogs notched a 27-20 homecoming victory on Friday (Sept. 25).
Geraldine (3-2, 2-1) won for the second straight year against the Lions (2-3, 1-2).
Sardis struck first on the opening possession of the game, capping off an eight-play, 60-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Logan Gaskin. The extra point was no good, and the Lions took the early 6-0 lead with 9:10 left in the opening quarter.
The Bulldogs found the end zone three plays later on the legs of running back Steven Hood – who finished the night with 121 yards on 13 carries – as he took the ball 58 yards for the score. The PAT was missed, and the score remained at 6-6 at the 7:39 mark.
Two possessions later, Hood found the end zone after a 34-yard dash to increase the Geraldine lead to 12-6. That’s where the score stayed with 2:21 left in the first.
Both offenses both stalled on back-to-back drives, and after a 20-yard punt, Sardis took over again at their own 23.
After five consecutive runs, the Lions found themselves just outside Bulldog territory at their own 48, and then Gaskin found receiver Austin Hallmark on a 37-yard pass play, which brought Sardis to the Geraldine 15.
Gaskin handed the ball off four more times to Tristan Scroggins, who crossed the plain at the 3:28 mark, tying the game. Smith’s kick was good, and the Lions took the 13-12 lead. However, it would be their last advantage.
The Bulldogs scored again on eight plays, finding the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Justin Murphy to Hood with 12.8 left before the half. The two-point conversion by running back Austin Willoughby made the score 20-13 at the half.
The third quarter was a rocky one for both teams, as slippery conditions and hard hits forced a total of three fumbles and one interception. Sardis lost three fumbles on its first four plays of the second half.
Geraldine was unable to capitalize on the first turnover, handing the ball right back to the Lions on a three-and-out.
But after quickly recovering a Sardis fumble, Hood was able to find the end zone for his third and final rushing touchdown. The extra point was good, and at the 3:55 mark in the third the Bulldogs increased their lead to 27-13.
After the kick off, the Lions fumbled on their second play from scrimmage.
The Bulldogs took over at midfield, and two plays later, Lion linebacker Tyler Stonicher grabbed Murphy’s pass and get the ball back.
Hallmark scored seven plays later on a 15-yard sprint to the corner of the Geraldine end zone. Smith’s extra point was good, and with 11:51 remaining Sardis pulled within seven points.
With just over four minutes left in the game, the Lions found themselves with the ball and one last opportunity to score and tie the game.
Sardis was forced to go for a fourth-and-six, and Sardis head coach Gene Hill decided to rely on the legs of his young quarterback to get the first. But Geraldine stood strong, stuffing Gaskin and handing the ball over to their offense.
The Bulldogs held onto the ball, forced Hill to burn his timeouts, and then converted the necessary first downs to put the game in the books and send the Lions packing.
Sardis heads to White Plains on Friday (Oct. 2) for a Class 4A, Region 6 matchup.