SPARTANBURG — Players on Dorman’s defense knew all about the arm of Lexington quarterback Will Hunter.
They found out about his legs.
Hunter, with 213 rushing yards on the season, ran for a career-high 149 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries Friday night as Lexington knocked off Dorman, 42-28, in the first round of the 4A playoffs. The Wildcats (10-2) advanced to play at No. 1 overall seed Byrnes (11-1) next week.
In addition to his running heroics, Hunter did his usual thing with 212 yards and two touchdowns through the air. That part was no surprise. He has thrown for 2,634 yards with 27 touchdowns this season and went over the 10,000-yard mark for his career
But he served notice with five carries on the Wildcats’ first possession of the game, picking up a third down with a 12-yard run, and then scored from the 10.
That was just the beginning.
“It caught us off guard,” Dorman coach Dave Gutshall said. “We hadn’t seen him run that much. We were sort of giving them that, thinking they wouldn’t take it. … We made him look good.”
Hunter operated Lexington’s offense like a machine in the first half. The Wildcats had four full possessions, not counting one cut short by halftime, and had touchdowns on drives of 11, nine, 10 and nine plays to build a 28-14 lead. They converted the first nine times on third downs and finished 12-for-16.
“That’s sort of been our history all year,” Gutshall said. “We’re not a very good third-down team.”
Lexington had been 0-8 against Dorman, so there was plenty of reason for the Wildcats to celebrate as the clock ticked down. And celebrate they did, jumping up and down and yelling as the Cavaliers (7-5) huddled quietly at the opposite end of the field.
“We knew we were going to be in for a tough struggle with them,” Gutshall said. “… We’ve been unlucky in the (playoff) draw. Sometimes, I think our schedule hurts us because we get so many points that it throws us up in the upper bracket. But it is what it is. We were playing on our field, and you can’t ask for more than that.”
Slade Carroll ran for 174 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. Ryan Brown had seven catches, including a touchdown, for 73 yards. Lexington had 32 first downs compared to 16 for Dorman.
The Cavaliers, however, were in the game for quite a while. They cut the lead to 28-21 in the final minute of the first half and then recovered a fumbled kickoff, but the referees ruled there was an inadvertent whistle and forced Dorman to kick again.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, down 34-21 and having driven to the 15-yard line, Dorman quarterback Grayland Fowler was intercepted by Jordan Carr in the end zone. Carr picked off Fowler’s next pass as well to all but seal the deal. Lexington went up, 42-21, with 3:08 remaining, and the Cavaliers added a late touchdown.