Gilbert upset Lexington 14-3 to hand them their first loss of the season.
“We’re just a little country town down the road and to beat the big school up the road, it’s a big deal,” Gilbert head coach Chad Leaphart said after his team’s 14-3 upset win over Lexington. “Our community revolves around Gilbert Athletics, not just football. It’s great at supporting our kids in everything we do in athletics and Friday night football, they’re always out here. It’s not like that everywhere. This place is special.”
Gilbert, America was in full force on Sept. 15 in a battle of two unbeatens between them and the Lexington Wildcats. Gilbert had a clear chip on their shoulder with something to prove with Lexington being ranked third in the state in 5A.
Lexington won the coin toss and deferred the option to the second half. Gilbert received the opening kick and immediately faced adversity. The Indians faced third and 17 on their own 40 when quarterback Drake Braddock found Matt Edwards for a 14 yard gain. Leaphart elected to go for it on fourth and three when he trotted his offense back out on the field but an offside penalty on Lexington before the snap automatically gave Gilbert the first to continue the drive.
The Gilbert drive ended at the Lexington 12 when a fumble was recovered by the Wildcats and stalled out the drive.
Lexington picked up a first down with a pass from Taiden Mines to Jonathan Rolland but was forced to punt after they moved the chains.
Both teams continued to exchange punts until late in the second quarter when Gilbert got backed up in their own territory and had to punt from their own four yard line. The Wildcats started the ensuing drive on the Gilbert 37 and immediately moved the chains with a pass from Mines to Brandon Cromer for 15 yards. Mines hit Lincoln Hill for 13 yards on the next play to get the ball to the Gilbert nine. The Wildcats were pushed back further after a sack by both Gray Gunter and Trevon Williamson but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Gilbert pushed the ball back 15 yards. The drive stalled out but the Wildcats finally got on the scoreboard with a 34-yard field goal from Tyler Chavis with a little over three minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Gilbert struck back on the next possession and retook the lead. They converted a third and 10 on a pass from Jaylen Jay and brought the ball to their own 38. A few plays later, Braddock connected with Edwards for a deep, 62-yard touchdown pass to give them a 7-3 advantage with only 1:54 left in the second quarter.
“We’ve been talking about that play all week,” Edwards said. “I just trust my quarterback and ran a good route and just took it to the house.”
The Indians took the 7-3 lead to the halftime break and in the second half, both defenses flexed their muscle and put all the scoring at a standstill. Lexington’s defense, led by Montrell Byrd, Jeffrey Weigand and Christian Sexton continued to pressure Braddock and keep the Gilbert offense at bay. Gilbert’s defense swarmed the Lexington offense and with the second half injury to Cromer, made life difficult for the Wildcats attack.
In the fourth quarter, Gilbert finally put the game away. Their first possession of the fourth quarter started at their own 32. Jay converted on a third and short and a few plays later, the Indians were facing a third and 13. Braddock found Jay for a 23 yard pick up. They converted another third and long on the next set of downs when they faced a third and 14. This time, they converted via a pass from Braddock to Krew Morris for 17 yards. Morris and Jay carried the ball down to the Lexongton six and Jay eventually got in the end zone with a six-yard touchdown with 6:17 remaining to push the lead to 14-3.
According to Braddock, Leaphart is to credit for the clutch third and long conversions.
“I’m gonna give all the credit to Coach Leaphart,” Braddock said. “He’s the best offensive mind in the state of South Carolina to me. So just trusting the game plan, he always knows what to do and trusting the game plan and trusting everyone else. That’s what’s gonna get the job done.”
For Leaphart, the third and longs were a product of great preparation.
“We always have a plan for third and long. Most times they don’t work but tonight, we hit it on the head and our guys executed,” Leaphart said. “It was really just some guys making great plays as far as some great catches, Drake stood in the pocket with some pressure and made some good throws. We had different receivers step up and make some big catches on those third downs. Just proud of them.”
Lexington attempted to get back into the game on the next possession. Mines was able to move the chains with a few big runs but stuffed runs and penalties pushed them back to fourth and 22 late in the game. Forced to go for it, Mines’ pass to Cam Sutton was knocked away by Wynn Meetze and caused a turnover on downs.
A few first downs later allowed Gilbert to milk the rest of the clock and seal the upset.
The win was not only a big win for the smaller community of Gilbert, but was huge for a football team with something to prove against a larger school.
“They’re a highly ranked 5A team,” Leaphart said. “Bigger classification, big rival school from down the road and we’re just a little country school up here. It don’t get no finer in high school football to pull one off like this in your hometown and your home stadium. Everybody’s just excited and fired up. It’s pretty awesome.”
Dutch Fork 41 North Augusta 12
White Knoll 67 South Aiken 6
Irmo 35 Hartsville 21
River Bluff 44 Lower Richland 6
Chapin 38 Brookland-Cayce 31
Airport 35 Fox Creek 18
C.A. Johnson 48 Swansea 27
Batesburg-Leesville 28 Newberry 26
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