By Bradley Roberts/For Sand Mountain Reporter
Despite giving up two scores early, Sardis played lights out in the second half to post the 41-14 victory over Crossville on Friday (Oct. 23) at Sardis.
With the win in their the Class 4A, Region 6 finale, the Lions improved to 4-5 overall and 3-4 in region play. Crossville fell to 1-8 and 1-6.
The victory was the ninth consecutive for Sardis in the series, during which the Lions have outscored Crossville 292-65.
Sardis struck first on its second possession of the game to get the early 6-0 lead at the 5:22 mark in the first quarter. Sophomore quarterback Logan Gaskin scrambled between the tackles on a sneak, crossing the plain of the goal line. Javin Smith hit his first of five extra point attempts and Sardis jumped out to the 7-0 lead.
During the ensuing Crossville possession, the lights at Sardis Stadium flickered off and then went out completely. It took 15 minutes for workers to repair the lights and for play to resume.
The two teams traded possessions to open the second quarter, and then on a third-and-11, Crossville receiver Blanton Jones found Addison Dismuke for 42 yards on a fake sweep.
Dismuke was brought down at the Sardis 11-yard line.
“A lot of the stuff [Crossville] ran with the trick plays, we worked on at practice this week,” said Sardis head coach Gene Hill. “I didn’t think our mind was in the game early, because the halfback pass was on third-and-11 and you aren’t going to run a halfback sweep in high school on third-and-11.”
Quarterback Ganon Pointer took the ball up the middle for the score, and kicker Ronaldo Jimenez hit his first of two extra points tying the score at 7-7 with 7:09 left before the half.
After the kick, Sardis took over at its own 30. On the first play from scrimmage, senior receiver Austin Hallmark took the ball 70 yards for the TD. The extra point made the score 14-7 at the 6:53 mark in the second quarter.
However, Crossville would again catch Sardis napping on Jones’ second trick play of the night. This time he found receiver Brantley Bruce for a 41-yard pass play. Four plays later, senior fullback Dylan Simpson took the ball up the middle for the score. The extra point tied the game at 14 with 4:02 left in the second, but it would be the last time Crossville scored.
After the teams traded three-and-outs, the Lions’ Tristan Scroggins blocked a punt and took the recovered ball down to the Crossville 2.
“That was one of our biggest plays,” Hill said. “We shot ourselves in the foot, and I thought [Crossville] should have been zero and us 21. But we did a good job right before halftime, and we got the seven [points], which I thought was big.”
Senior running back Keenan Lewis rumbled his way across the goal line, and with the PAT, Sardis took a 21-14 lead into the locker room.
A Crossville drive to open the third quarter was stalled after defensive back Tristan Scroggins intercepted Pointer’s pass in the end zone.
Sardis took the ball 80 yards on 12 plays, with Scroggins taking the ball on a curl route and driving 13 yards for the score. The extra point made the score 28-14 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
“I thought we threw the ball well,” Hill said. “We weren’t consistent enough running, but we had a couple of more receivers catch the ball tonight, and I think that was key for us. That’s what we’ve been looking for. We can’t just have one receiver.”
With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Gaskin passed to Hallmark his second touchdown on the night and Sardis increased its lead to 28.
The Sardis second team received some playing time to end the game, but with Crossville driving late in the game, the Lions’ first team was sent back to finish what it started.
Crossville’s Jones again tried the reverse, but this time the defense was ready for it, and Sardis forced Jones to fumble. Linebacker Jarrod Smith scooped up the ball and took it 88 yards to the house for the final score as time expired.
Sardis closes out its season this Friday (Oct. 30) at Boaz.
“It will be our last ballgame – a rivalry game – so you can throw all the records out,” Hill said. “We’re expecting a tough game, so we’re going to go up there next week and hopefully play the best we can play.”