SARDIS – “Ground and pound” was the game plan for Boaz as the Pirates raced past Sardis by a score of 42-14 at Lions Stadium.
While dominating time of possession 33:05 to 14:55, none of the Pirates’ 371 yards of offense came through the air against their 5A, Region 6 rival. Out of 69 plays, Boaz only attempted one pass that fell incomplete ¬– which was one more pass play than head coach Jeremy Sullivan intended.
“My actual game plan was to throw it none,” Sullivan said. “I let them talk me into that kind of trick play mess, there.
“It’s the time of year that you establish yourself as the most physical football team and that’s how you’re going to win,” Sullivan said about not throwing the ball. “It’s with physical, tough play. And I just wanted to send a message.”
At 8:52 in the first quarter, senior running back Christian Collins got the ball rolling on the Pirates’ opening possession by capping off a 9-play, 56-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. Kicker Gerardo Baeza’s PAT put Boaz up 7-0. Baeza finished the game a perfect 6-of-6 on PATs.
With 4:35 remaining in the first quarter, Sardis answered back with its own 11-play, 74-yard touchdown drive after quarterback Jay Owens completed a screen pass to Jacob Hopper for 17 yards. The PAT converted by Trey Salers knotted the score 7-7. Salers finished 2-of-2 on PATs.
On Boaz’s next possession, the offense drove the football 69 yards for a second trip to the end zone to regain the lead 14-7 with under 10 minutes left in the first half. Collins scored for the Pirates on a direct snap from 7 yards away.
After the Lions turned the ball over on downs, Boaz running back Briley Ramey ran the football for a 3-yard touchdown with 1:38 left in the second quarter to push the Pirates’ lead out to 21-7. Ramey finished with 118 yards and one score on 15 carries.
With little time to spare, Sardis’s final drive of the first half was cut short after Cole Bowling intercepted a pass from Owens at the 10-yard line and returned it out to the 31 to end the half. Bowling finished the game with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
In the second half, with 9:13 left in the third quarter, Collins made his third trip to the end zone on a 5-yard carry to increase the Boaz lead to 28-7. After the Pirate defense forced the Lions to go three plays and punt, Collins took the football in for a 7-yard touchdown for his fourth score of the game, lifting Boaz to a 35-7 lead. Seven seconds before the end of the third quarter, Sardis found the end zone behind a 5-yard run from Drew Vaughn to trim the lead to 35-14. Vaughn finished with 78 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.
Using as much time as possible, Boaz scored for a final time with 4:27 remaining in the fourth quarter to ice the game at 42-14. Collins capped off a 13-play, 54-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Collins finished with 200 yards and five touchdowns on 38 carries.
Collins’ big night propelled the Pirates to its first win against Sardis in three years and clinched Boaz (7-1, 4-0) a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2014. For Sardis, the setback eliminated the Lions from playoff contention.
“I thought our guys played really physical and really hard,” Sullivan said. “We just have to keep getting better everyday and hopefully we can continue to improve. It’s a huge win for us. This is what we’ve been working toward since the day I walked in and the kids have really done a great job and I’m just proud of them.”
Next week, as Boaz hosts Southside and tries to remain undefeated in region play, Sardis (2-5, 1-4) travels to Crossville.