Tolen's 4 TDs, defense lifts Gilbert past Lexington
Hardly a seat was left unfilled Friday at Leonard Price Field as Gilbert played host to in-county foe Lexington.
The contest pitted 2 undefeated teams with ties on both sides. Indians' head coach Chad Leaphart played under Marty Woolbright, the father of Wildcats' head coach Perry Woolbright.
The younger Woolbright looked to lead Lexington to a 2nd straight win over their Class 3A crosstown rival. Instead, it was the Indians which earned its 2nd win ever over a Class 5A team in the 31-14 victory.
Before a televised audience watching on WACH 57, quarterback Jy Tolen threw for 261 yards and 4 touchdowns and rushed for 60 yards to lead the offense. After allowing 82 points in the first 2 games, the Indians' defense shut out the Wildcats in the 2nd half, forced 3 turnovers and collected 2 sacks.
"We needed them to come up big tonight because we knew that Lexington's defense was very good," said Gilbert head coach Chad Leaphart, who improved to 32-7 at his alma mater. "So, it was going to be tough for us to score like we had the previous 2 weeks. But, they came up big. They got key stops. They got some key turnovers and ended up holding them to 14 points."
Lexington (2-1) took a 7-0 lead in the 1st quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Taylor Mathias. It remained that way for most of the first half, until Gilbert tied the game with 5.9 seconds left on a Tolen jump pass to an open Alec Holt.
The Indians' defense turned the tables on the Wildcats to open the 2nd half. Lexington quarterback Eligah Ogden's pass was intercepted by Dre Cook and the Indians capitalized when Tolen connected with Dre Harris for a 30-yard touchdown.
"When you lose the turnover battle, which we did, you lose 84 percent of your games," Woolbright said. "That was big right there."
Lexington quickly tied the game when Ogden found Tristan Allen who sprinted 60 yards for the score. Allen finished with 5 receptions for 109 yards and averaged 43 yards on 3 punts.
Gilbert closed out the game with 17 unanswered points. Tolen found Matt Reed for a 16-yard touchdown and Holt for a 44-yard score to close out the third quarter and Rajan Cheema hit a 22-yard field goal with 3:28 left in the game.
Despite the loss, Woolbright was encouraged by his team's play in the raucous atmosphere. He was especially encouraged by Ogden, who finished 15-27 for 185 yards.
"The more big ballgames he plays in, the better," Woolbright said. "This is his 3rd ballgame he's every started for us. He played a little bit in the second half of the Gilbert game last year. But other than that, he didn't play. He didn't play varsity football before he came to us 9th and 10th grade year. So, this is really his 3rd varsity game. So, the more big ballgames and that's why we play teams like Gilbert in non-region, helps us prepare for our non-region games."
Lexington plays host to South Aiken next week, while Gilbert (3-0) continues its run of higher classification county teams when it heads on the road to face Airport.