Sardis halts Hokes Bluff in region tilt

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By Lionel Green/For Sand Mountain Reporter

Austin Hallmark scored three touchdowns and the Sardis
defense allowed only one score as the Lions defeated Hokes Bluff, 28-7, in a
Class 4A, Region 6 contest on Friday (Sept. 18) in Sardis City.

Sardis improved to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in Region 6, while
the Eagles dropped to 2-2 overall and 2-1.

“I felt going in tonight that this was a real big game for
our season,” said Sardis head coach Gene Hill. “We were in the same spot we
were in last year. We were 1-2 and got a big win down at their place and kind
of turned it around. We put three or four wins together, and it gave us an
opportunity to get in the playoffs. I felt it was a pivotal game and got us
some confidence and we built off that. I feel the same way about tonight.”

The Lions opened the game with a quick five-play, 84-yard
drive. Hallmark keyed the drive with a 43-yard reception from quarterback Logan
Gaskin and then capped it with a diving 26-yard catch in the back of the end
zone from a Gaskin pass.

Javin Smith booted the first of four extra points for a 7-0
Sardis lead at the 10:48 mark of the opening quarter.

Later in the first period, Hallmark propelled another Lions
scoring drive with a 38-yard reception from Gaskin and ended it with a 13-yard
touchdown catch off a ball he tipped to himself. With 44 seconds left in the
first quarter, Sardis led 14-0.

Hokes Bluff responded with an eight-play, 64-yard drive.
Quarterback Landon Johnson one-yard score to cut the Lion lead in half at 14-7
with 8:50 left in the second quarter.

Sardis stuffed the Eagles’ opening drive of the second half,
forcing a punt. The Lion offense then marched 73 yards in seven plays to take a
21-7 lead with 7:15 remaining in the third quarter. Once again, a
Gaskin-to-Hallmark connection sparked the drive, with Hallmark’s 53-yard
reception moving the ball down to the Hokes Bluff 25. Five plays later,
Hallmark ran the ball 14 yards into the end zone on a reverse.

The Sardis defense stiffened on the next two Eagle drives.
Defensive back Tristan Scroggins recovered a fumble and lineman Kyle Murphy
recorded a two-yard tackle for loss on a critical third-and-2 with Hokes Bluff
threatening to score inside the 10.

Gaskin powered in for a 5-yard touchdown run on fourth down
with 53 seconds to provide the final 28-7 margin.

Hallmark caught seven passes for 220 yards and two
touchdowns. Hallmark also rushed for 38 yards and a score.

“He’s our big playmaker,” Hill said. “We’re going to try to
move him around some more and try to get him in different positions. He played
a heck of a game and made some great catches. I’m proud of him.”

Gaskin finished 9-of-14 in passing for 238 yards and two
touchdowns and also ran for one score.

Brandon Cruz rushed for 72 yards on 29 carries.

For Hokes Bluff, Johnson was 9-of-27 passing for 106 yards. Andrew Colley caught three passes for 55 yards, while Bradley Pruett rushed 16 times for 68 yards. Cam Dowdy had 18 tackles, followed by Fisher Simmons with nine and Brett Roberts and Logan Harp with eight each. 

Sardis visits Geraldine this Friday, while Hokes Bluff
travels to Glencoe.

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