The winningest season in Gilbert’s history came to an end Friday night.
Appalachian State commit Zareon Hayes ran for three TDs, and Dillon used a suffocating defensive performance to defeat Gilbert 34-7 in the Class 3A Lower State semifinals at Leonard Price Stadium.
Dillon advances to the Lower State title game and hosts Brookland-Cayce in a rematch of last year’s contest.
The loss ends the Indians’ season at 12-1. It was the first time Gilbert has lost at home in two seasons under coach Chad Leaphart.
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“We had a bad night, but our guys have nothing to hang our heads about,” Leaphart said. “We had a heck of a year, 12-1, most games won in school history and first region title. It was a great year for our program. We took another step from last year, and we are looking to building on this for years to come.”
The Wildcats, one of the state’s top programs over the past two decades, showed that experience and quieted the large crowd early. Dillon scored on the game’s first possession as Jay Lester hit Tyquan Porter on an 18-yard touchdown pass less than five minutes into the game.
Dillon added pair of scores in the second quarter coming from Hayes, who was inserted as the Wildcat quarterback near the goal line. The second score came with 50 seconds left before halftime.
The Indians had their share of opportunities in the first half as their defense picked off Lester twice but couldn’t muster a sustained drive. Linebacker Shamar McCollum harassed quarterbacks Josh Strickland and Jy Tolen and Gilbert’s up-tempo offense never got going.
Dillon’s defense picked off two passes and also recovered a fumble.
Gilbert’s lone score came with less than two minutes left on DeAndre Cook’s 3-yard run.
282: Total offense by Gilbert. The Indians were averaging 524 yards per game.
9: How many times Dillon has won at least 13 games since 2003.
THEY SAID IT
“Dillon is heck of a football team, lot of good athletes, but another thing is they are really well coached.” – Leaphart
“This was a tremendous atmosphere in Gilbert. It is what high school football is all about. We told our guys we needed to start fast or we could be in trouble. ” – Dillon coach Jackie Hayes
HOW THEY SCORED
D – Porter 18 pass from Lester (Dawod kick), 8:43
D – Z. Hayes 6 run (Dawod kick), 10:06
D – Z. Hayes 5 run (Dawod kick), 0:50
D – Wright 7 run (kick failed), 10:28
D – Z. Hayes 7 run (Dawod kick), 4:05
G – Deandre Cook 3 run (Watson kick), 1:32
Rushing: D: Hayes 6-33, Lester 7-48, Wright 6-28, Williams 15-85, Rogers 1-2. G: Strickland 5 (-18), Tolen 3-4, Cook 13-44, Temples 8-22, Reeder 1-4, Harris 1-3.
Passing: D: Lester 9-14-2 195. G: Strickland 14-26-2 196, Tolen 3-7-0 27
Receiving: D: Wright 2-63, Porter 2-41, Rogers 2-39, Huggins 2-35, Bethea 1-17. G:Sease 2-60, Cook 2-47, Loper 3-42, Reeder 5-36, Bright 3-26, Temples 2-12.