Photo: Sardis High’s Blaze Gerhart runs through a tackle attempt by Brewer’s Landen Alexander (on ground) and Dawson Clanton (right) during the Lions’ 21-14 victory in high school football on Sept. 29 in Sardis City. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Taylor Beck/For Sand Mountain Reporter
Trailing A.P. Brewer 14-7 after two quarters, Sardis rallied in the second half for a 21-14 for a non-region victory in the Lions’ homecoming in Sardis City.
After the Lion defense forced a punt on Brewer’s first possession of the third quarter, the offense drove down the field in punishing fashion to tie up the ballgame 14-14 with 2:57 left to play in the period. Blaze Gerhart capped off a 16-play, 86-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Early in the fourth quarter, Sardis defensive back Levi Martin intercepted a pass at the Lion 45 and returned it to the Brewer goal line. But the Lions were forced to start the drive from their 42-yard line thanks to a blindside blocking penalty.
In 10 plays, Sardis drove down the field to take a 21-14 lead with 5:36 to play. It was Gerhart again reaching the end zone for the Lions for the game-winning score, this time from 15 yards away. During the possession, he had four carries of six, 10, 12 and 15 yards.
With under a minute remaining in the game, Sardis defensive back Luke Martin sealed the victory with an interception at the Lions 8-yard line.
Gerhart was held to just 27 rush yards in the first half but finished the game with 131 yards on 21 carries.
“There’s not enough words to say about Blaze Gerhart,” said Sardis head coach B.J. Brooks. “He’s a guy that everybody would love to coach. He’s one of the heartbeats of our team, and our offensive line did a great job blocking for him. Even our quarterback was out there blocking for him. We talked about having grit and refusing to lose. And our team showed that tonight, so I just couldn’t be more proud of them for that.”
All 14 of the Patriots’ points were scored during the first quarter. Following a three and out by Sardis on the game’s opening drive, Brewer took a 7-0 lead two plays later. With nine minutes left in the quarter, Patriots quarterback Cason Oden connected with receiver Hunter Knighten for a 76-yard touchdown pass.
Sardis answered with a 60-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brian Chapman to receiver Conner Lowery, tying the game 7-7 with 5:45 remaining in the first quarter.
On the Patriots’ ensuing possession, backup quarterback Danny Burney III capped off an 11-play, 70-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to regain the lead 14-7 with 1:03 to play in the opening quarter.
In the second half, Sardis flipped a switch and shut out the Patriots during the final two quarters of play.
Chapman was 14 of 22 in passing for 140 yards and a touchdown. Lowery had four receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown, while Eli Morton caught four passes for 32 yards and Landon Carroll three for 14.
“I tell them all the time that they’ve just got to believe in themselves and that they don’t have to play bigger than the game,” said Brooks. “What makes them so good is being themselves. In the first half, we weren’t being ourselves, and we just made too many errors – too many mistakes, too many penalties, getting behind the chains – and that’s my fault. I’ve got to have them more disciplined. I just told them that we’ve got to quit hurting ourselves and that we can’t be our own worst enemy.”
The Lions defense totaled three interceptions on the night and two sacks.
“We hadn’t got an interception all year, so we were due,” Brooks said. “We’ve got some guys that can make some plays, and they stepped up and did it.”
Sardis, which improved to 4-1on the season, hosts Class 5A Region 7 rival Douglas on Friday, Oct. 6.