Sparks forced Dayton to go three-and-out and got the ball back late in the third quarter. The Railroaders took over at their own 40. Two plays later, SHS quarterback Mastor Sells broke loose for a 45-yard run down to the Dayton 3-yard line. On the next play, Sparks' Jervontae Churchill got into the end zone on a sweep out of the Railroaders' 'Wildcat Package.' That touchdown trimmed the Dayton lead to 28-19 with 10 and a half minutes remaining in the conference clash.
"Momentum is such a huge part of high school football," Sparks coach Rob Kittrell said. "By being able to hang around, make a couple big plays and score, that really helped our defense out tonight. In the fourth quarter, our guys were stepping up, hitting, tackling and playing with more confidence.
"We talk about improvement and we've made small gains all year. Tonight, we made some more. In the fourth quarter, we looked like a decent high school football team. That's the best we've played for a full game on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball."
The two teams traded defensive stops. Sparks thought it would get the ball back, forcing Dayton into a fourth-and-6 play at the Sparks 35. Dayton faked the kick, picked up seven yards for a first down and scored a touchdown soon after to forge ahead 35-19 with four minutes showing on the game clock.
Sparks turned the ball over on downs on the next possession and Dayton added a score in the final seconds to account for the final margin.
The two teams traded scoreless possessions in the first quarter, but Dayton found the end zone twice in the second quarter and held a 14-0 lead at the break.
On the second play of the second half, Dayton got a 52-yard touchdown run from Austin Fletcher to push its edge to 21-0.
That's when Sparks began to fight back. The host Railroaders got a 40-yard touchdown run from Churchill on a fourth-and-5 play that trimmed the DHS lead to 21-7 midway through the third quarter.
Dayton responded with a touchdown of its own to extend its lead to 28-7 but Sparks had plenty of fight left. Sparks got to within 28-13 after a 1-yard TD run by Sells. The SHS signal caller had the big play on the drive, a 44-yard gallop on the play before the touchdown.
That set the stage for Sparks' final touchdown and Dayton's game-clinching scores in the fourth quarter.
"I'm happy with how we played," Kittrell said. "I hope we can carry it over to next week. We've got a little belief now so that's good."
Sparks (0-8) wraps up its season next Friday at home against Wooster.