A four-year letterman for the Sardis football team, senior and South Alabama commitment Jacob Hopper has contributed many big plays for head coach Gene Hill’s Lions.
But Friday night against archrival Boaz, Hopper delivered the signature play of his career when he stripped the ball from Kadin Bennefield at the 1-yard line and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown with 5:37 left in the third quarter. Hopper’s spectacular defensive play gave the Lions a 24-14 lead.
Hopper’s performance on both sides of the ball helped Sardis secure a 31-28 victory and take a step closer to clinching the program’s first state playoff berth in Class 5A. For his efforts, Hopper earned The Reporter/Sand Mountain Toyota Player of the Week for week seven.
According to the AHSAA’s record book, Hopper’s 99-yard play is tied for the second-longest fumble return for a TD in state history. Ward Richardson, of Auburn, returned a fumble 99 yards in a 27-12 win over Lineville in 1927.
Brett Foxworth, of Montgomery Catholic, returned a fumble 100 yards for a score in a 46-14 loss to Pike County in 2013.
Hopper caught four passes for 79 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown. His 25-yard reception converted a third-and-long on the Lions’ final series, enabling them to maintain possession and run out the clock. He collected six solo tackles and two assists on defense.
Other top performances from the Oct. 11 games were:
SHS quarterback Jay Owens completed 17-of-24 passes for 253 yards and the one touchdown to Hopper. He also scored on a 1-yard run.
Luke Morris rushed 24 times for 98 yards and scored on a 4-yard run. Justin Minyard caught five passes for 72 yards, and Temon Wilson had four receptions for 63 yards.
The Aggies clinched a Class 6A state playoff berth by whipping Lee-Huntsville 49-28 in their final home game of the regular season. They gained a season-best 495 yards total offense.
Junior quarterback Ben Allen hit on 18-of-25 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 10 times for 86 yards and TDs of 5 and 56 yards.
Allen’s TD throws covered 26 and 28 yards to Trinity Bell, 17 yards to Hayden Mann and 16 yards to Luke Kelly. Mann caught seven passes for 121 yards.
Albertville’s defense forced three turnovers — interceptions by Elijah Moss and Evan Martinez and a fumble recovery by Kameron Nesbit. Moss also blocked a field goal.
Fyffe Red Devils
Class 2A, No. 1 Fyffe posted its fifth shutout of the season in a 42-0 rout of Region 8 rival Cedar Bluff. Fyffe’s defense has allowed nine points all season.
Ty Bell paced Fyffe with 11 tackles, followed by Chase Wooten with nine. Malichi Mize recorded 7.5 stops while Eli Benefield contributed seven.
Ike Rowell rushed 64, 24 and 2 yards for Red Devil touchdowns. He gained 140 yards on just nine carries.
Zach Pyron carried nine times for 67 yards, including a 14-yard TD run. Fyffe rushed for 329 yards.
Logan Pate rushed 20 times for 173 yards and scored touchdowns on runs of 8, 9 and 19 yards in Guntersville’s 37-7 whipping of Brewer in a Class 5A, Region 8 game.
Zak Burnett finished 14-of-23 passing for 174 yards and touchdowns of 20 yards to Campbell Leach and 22 yards to Jack Harris. Burnett directed a Wildcat offense that rolled up 450 total yards.
Brandon Fussell’s five receptions led GHS. His catches totaled 58 yards.
Cooper Davidson closed with four catches for 66 yards, and Pablo Rios kicked a 41-yard field goal.
Trelle Harris picked off his first pass of the season for Guntersville’s defense.
Austin Bloodworth finished with 124 yards total offense and rushed for Asbury’s touchdown in a 56-6 loss to region rival and Class 2A, No. 7 Collinsville.
Bloodworth was 5-of-10 passing for 84 yards. Dakota Templeton caught all five of Bloodworth’s completions. Bloodworth grabbed an interception on defense.
Korbyn Patterson recorded seven tackles, a sack and forced a fumble for the Rams. Skylor Justice also made seven tackles.
Kadin Bennefield rushed 22 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Sardis. His TD runs covered 80 and 14 yards.
Bennefield also returned a kickoff 67 yards for a score to finish the night with three TDs.
Jaquez Kelly, Lorenzo Goss and Carson Chamblee each contributed an interception for Boaz’s defense.