By Tommy Shields/Sports Correspondent
North Sand Mountain gave Gaston all it could handle and more last Friday, as the 10th ranked Bison scored on virtually every drive in a 65-38 Class 2A, Region 7 victory at GHS.
The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 0-3 in the region and 0-4 overall.
The Thundering Herd got off to a quick start, going 63 yards in four plays. A 47-yard rumble by Dexter Walsh set up a quarterback scramble from Tyler Vann for a touchdown at 8:21 of the first quarter.
A short Gaston drive came to an end on a fourth down conversion attempt, and NSM wasted no time chalking up another touchdown on the ground with a 60-yard burst from Walsh.
A successful two-point conversion extended the Bison lead to 14-0. Gaston answered right back, going 58 yards on a scoring pass from Jordan Douglas to Jackson Bogle that put the Dawgs back in the fight. A failed two-point attempt put the score at 14-6.
The Bison weren’t done, with Vann tossing an 11-yard TD pass on a left side slant to Cody McBryar to put NSM up 21-6 midway through the second quarter
“The slants were working for us tonight,” said Vann. “We were able to take advantage of it.”
Gaston freshman gunslinger Jordan Douglas hooked up with Jackson Bogle for another score, this one from 34 yards out.
A successful two-point conversion got the Dawgs back on track, turning it into a one-possession game.
A Vann fumble produced a spark of life from the Bulldogs, which was quickly snuffed out by a Dexter Walsh interception.
Walsh’s pick set up a 44-yard touchdown pass to McBryar, pushing the score to 28-14 with 4:36 left in the second.
Jackson Bogle then scored his third touchdown of the first half on a 23-yard bruiser of a run. Following a two-point conversion, the Bulldogs trailed by only 28-21 at the half.
“I posed our players a challenge at halftime to play four quarters of football,” said NSM head coach Adam Gilbert. “That’s a problem we have, in not being a full four quarter team. I think we stepped up and met the challenge tonight.”
Met the challenge the Herd did.
The Bison’s charged out of the gate on the third play of the second half as Dexter Walsh went 26 yards straight up the gut, shucking tackles left and right, for his second touchdown on the ground.
Gaston went three and out on its next offensive series giving the ball back to NSM.
Five plays later, a 24-yard touchdown pass from Vann to Chris George on a blown coverage.
“We worked on route running all week,” said Vann. “I guess practice makes perfect.”
Another Bison touchdown made an already bad situation worse for the Dawgs with NSM going up 44-22 with 7:57 seconds left in the third quarter.
Vann hit Walsh again, this time on a 59-yard streak for Vann’s fourth passing TD of the night.
The icing on the Herd’s cake was a one-yard touchdown run by Walsh to seal the deal.
With the score at 55-22, NSM sent out the reserves, which tacked on one more score on a six-yard quarterback scramble by McBryar.
Vann went 12-14 for 341 yards and five total touchdowns.
Walsh carried the Bison ground game with 192 yards and four touchdowns on nine carries.
Bogle finished with 96 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Jordan Douglas went 8-for-14 in passing for 138 yards and two scores.
Gaston takes a break from region play next week with a visit to Wadley.