SANGER — The winless Sanger Indians came into Friday night’s matchup with undefeated Gainesville looking to right the ship and shock District 9-3A.
Instead, the Indians (0-7) managed only two first downs in the first half, and Gainesville (8-0) trampled Sanger 53-7 as junior running back Adam Berryman and senior quarterback Denzel Johnson combined to rush for more than 400 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Indians got off to a good start when senior receiver Devin Teeters caught the opening kickoff, reversed field and raced 41 yards down the Sanger sideline before being pushed out of bounds at the Gainesville 39-yard line.
However, the offense, which failed to get a first down in the first quarter, sputtered and was forced to punt three plays later. Gainesville responded with an 11-play drive, capped off by Berryman’s 21-yard touchdown run with 6 minutes left in the first quarter.
Berryman finished with 282 yards on 21 carries and six touchdowns.
“That is a very good football team, and there is a reason they’re undefeated,” Sanger head coach Chuck Galbreath said after the game. “They outplayed us tonight.”
The struggles continued in the first quarter for the Indians as junior quarterback Wyatt Broxson and sophomore running back Lance Hunter each fumbled on back-to-back possessions.
Gainesville took advantage of both miscues as senior quarterback Denzel Johnson found the end zone on 22-yard scamper and then hit senior receiver David Moore with a 33-yard strike to give the Leopards a 26-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Johnson finished with 133 yards rushing and a touchdown. Johnson also threw for 62 yards, a touchdown and even intercepted an errant pass with 20 seconds left in the first half. One play and nine seconds later, Berryman raced 36 yards right up the middle to extend Gainesville’s lead to 39 before halftime.
The Sanger defense provided a glimpse of optimism for its fans in the third quarter when Moore caught a pass from Johnson and tried to cut back across the field but fumbled after being hit near Sanger’s 35-yard line. Junior defensive back Kion Evans scooped up the ball and ran 65 yards for Sanger’s only score on the night.
However, the excitement was short lived as Berryman broke lose on the very next play for 62 yards to score his sixth and final touchdown.
A third quarter quarterback change didn’t do much for the stagnant Indians offense. Sophomore Brandon Mann ran seven times for 39 yards and completed two passes for 4 yards.
Junior Dylan Hennan led the Indians with 43 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Neither team moved the ball much through the air as Gainesville never needed to and Sanger never could. The Leopards’ defense was stout all night and held Sanger to 99 yards of total offense and only five first downs.
After the game, Galbreath told his players to keep their heads up, put the game behind them and get ready for next week. Despite a zero in the win column, the Indians still have an outside shot to make the playoffs.
Sanger will travel to Krum next Friday to square off against its second straight undefeated 9-3A foe. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 at Bobcat Stadium.
“This is a five team district and we feel like we have a chance to make the playoffs if we can learn from this,” Galbreath said. “Krum is playing with a lot of confidence. They’re a lot like Gainesville and they play hard and fast. We’re going to need to match their intensity and if we do that on defense then we have a chance to play with those guys.”
Gainesville 53, Sanger 7
G — Adam Berryman 21 run (Hector Sagrero kick missed), 7:55
G — Adam Berryman 9 run (two-point conversion no good), 3:14
G — Denzel Johnson 22 run (Hector Sagrero kick), 1:26
G — David Moore 33 pass from Denzel Johnson (Hector Sagrero kick), :42
G — Adam Berryman 4 run (Hector Sagrero kick blocked), 2:40
G — Adam Berryman 36 run (Hector Sagrero kick), :11
G — Adam Berryman 5 run (Hector Sagrero kick), 9:00
S — Kion Evans 65 fumble return (Kyle Johnson kick), 6:37
G — Adam Berryman 62 run (Hector Sagrero kick), 6:24
Rushing — S: Dylan Hennan 11-43, Brandon Mann 7-39, Lance Hunter 6-21, Wyatt Broxson 4-(-8). G: Adam Berryman 21-282, Denzel Johnson 9-133, Jacob Royal 4-39, Devin Mims 2-9, Rocky Salazar 4-8, Jonathan Mendez 5-2, Demetrius Franklin 1, (-3).
Passing — S: Wyatt Broxson 0-1-0-0, Brandon Mann 2-4-1-4 G: Denzel Johnson 3-5-0-62
Receiving — S: Tanner Thomas 2-4. G: David Moore 2-51, Jacob Royal 1-11.