A win would secure the fourth and final playoff spot from the region, while the loser would be left out in the cold.
The Wildcats made sure a letdown wasn’t going to happen. They continued to pour it on in the second half and claimed a 35-14 victory that will send Sand Rock (5-4, 4-3) to top-ranked Tanner (9-0) for the second straight season when the state playoffs start two weeks.
Tanner defeated Sand Rock in last year’s opening round, 31-13.
Sand Rock concludes the 2012 regular season at home against Cherokee County rival Cedar Bluff (8-0) on Friday.
“I was proud of our kids,” Jacoway said. “They were focused from start to finish.”
Sand Rock junior quarterback Dylan Mackey had his best performance of the season Friday against the Hornets (5-4, 3-4). He finished with 314 total yards and accounted for all five of Sand Rock’s touchdowns.
Mackey completed 11 of 24 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, but he was even more effective on the ground. Mackey tallied 197 yards on 13 totes with four scores.
He got things going for Sand Rock with 1:26 left in the first quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run, giving the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
Mackey scored again on the ground with just a minute left before halftime on a 63-yard run. Ethan Jimmerson’s extra point put the Wildcats up 14-0.
Sand Rock’s defense came up big with just over 30 seconds remaining before halftime by picking off a Hornet pass. Mackey made them pay with a 35-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Chandler Mackey, giving the Wildcats a 21-0 halftime lead.
Ider finally got on the scoreboard with 1:15 left in the third when senior quarterback Landry Gaddis connected with junior running back Caleb Higdon for a touchdown. The extra point was good, trimming Sand Rock’s lead to 21-7.
Gaddis completed 14 of 30 pass attempts for 145 yards and a touchdown, but threw three costly interceptions, which were snagged by Wildcat defenders Austin Chambers, Zane Farrar and Chase Garrett.
Mackey extended Sand Rock’s lead back to a three-touchdown margin again in the fourth quarter with his 39-yard scoring run. Mackey put the game away with his 41-yard touchdown run later in the quarter.
Hornet freshman running back Jarrett Palmer accounted for Ider’s last score on a touchdown run in the fourth.
Sean Wylie and Matthew Tinsley led the Wildcat defense with 5 ½ tackles apiece. Jimmerson added five tackles.