SAND ROCK – A week ago against Westbrook Christian, the Sand Rock Wildcats fell behind by three scores early on before making a game of it.
No such fate was in store for the Wildcats on Friday night against Gaston.
Sand Rock scored touchdowns on its first five possessions. Colton Cash returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown, and had a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, to lead the Wildcats to a 60-7 victory.
“I’m super-proud of these kids. They’ve worked so dang hard,” first-year Sand Rock coach Alan Heath said. “A lot of them were able to touch the ball tonight. A lot of them were able to block, tackle and score touchdowns. I’m just proud of them.”
But early in the game, it appeared as if the Bulldogs (1-3, 0-3 Class 2A, Region 6) would take the early lead. They drove down inside the Wildcat 35-yard line before Olin Pruitt picked off a Josh Campbell pass to end the scoring threat.
“Always on the first series, you’ve got to kind of adjust, see what they’re going to do, see what their strengths are. We were able to do that tonight,” Sand Rock coach Alan Heath said. “We bent a little bit, but didn’t break. The kids, once they got honed in, they didn’t let much happen. I’m proud of them. They really made tackles and got off blocks really well.”
Six plays after the turnover, Sand Rock quarterback Ace Ashley found Pruitt for a 6-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 6:30 left in the first quarter.
After a short Bulldog punt, Sand Rock (2-1, 1-1) went up 13-0 on Jacob Cornejo’s 28-yard touchdown run at the end of the first quarter.
Cornejo led the Wildcat rushers with 100 yards and two touchdowns on just six first-half carries.
The Wildcats kept pouring it on in the second quarter. Ethan Clanton ran it in from two yards just 33 seconds into the second stanza. After Cornejo recovered a Gaston fumble, he scored his second touchdown of the night on a 4-yard run, giving Sand Rock at 27-0 advantage.
Another Gaston punt yielded another Sand Rock score. This time, Trace Shubert scored on 16-yard run to push the Wildcats out to a 34-0 lead.
Cash capped the first half with his 38-yard interception return for a touchdown for a 41-0 Sand Rock advantage at halftime.
Sand Rock received the second-half kickoff, which Pruitt took 77 yards for the score. Magnus Goolsby added a 14-yard touchdown run with just 46 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Wildcats a 54-0 edge.
Gaston scored its only touchdown on a 53-yard run by Campbell with just over five minutes remaining in the game, but on the ensuing kickoff, Cash scored again on a 75-yard return for the final.
Campbell led the Bulldogs with 42 yards on eight carries.
Sand Rock is at Southeastern next Friday, while Gaston hosts West End of Walnut Grove.