Lexington’s rushing offense finally caught on in the second half at Cecil Woolbright Field on Friday night.
With a few runs from Akeem Nicholas against a stubborn Chapin defense, the Wildcats closed out a 14-6 victory against over the Eagles. It’s a Region 5-5A win that propels them into a second-place battle with River Bluff next week.
The winn over the game clinches second in the region and a home playoff game.
“We didn’t really have to make any adjustments at halftime,” Lexington coach Perry Woolbright said. “We just got refocused and came out and executed.”
The focus enabled Nicholas, with just three first half yards, finish the night with 133 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Clinging to a 7-3 lead after a scoreless third quarter, Lexington (5-3, 2-1) got a game-clinching score from Nicholas at the 9:09 mark of the fourth.
After racking up a 28-yard game as part of a hook-and-lateral play that set the Wildcats up at the Chapin 15-yard line, Nicholas burst through the line for a 15-yard TD run to give Lexington a 14-3 lead.
Chapin (4-4, 1-3) got a 37-yard field goal from Alex Nelson with 6:06 to go, but the Wildcats controlled the ball most of the rest of the way.
“We just didn’t execute in the first half,” Woolbright said. “We missed some cuts inside when we tried to run outside, and missed some wide open throws. We just fixed our focus and came out better.”
Lexington’s first score, which came at the last second of the first half, helped with the focus.
Chapin looked to take a 3-0 lead into the locker room when Nelson made good on a 35-yard field goal at the 7:22 mark of the second quarter.
Lexington turned the ball over on downs at the Eagles’ 30-yard line with less than a minute to go in the half.
On Chapin’s first play from scrimmage, Roger Pedroni threw to Lexington defender Tristan Allen, and Allen returned it to the Eagles 19.
Two plays later, Cal Herndon connected with Nathan Baxley at the Eagles 3. Then Herndon found Forrest Alvarez in the left corner of the end zone with one second left.
“Maybe it affected our momentum a little bit going into the half,” Chapin head coach Justin Gentry said. “We took a little chance (and forced a turnover). We knew we weren’t gonna hold them to a 3-0 lead for very long, so we took a chance and that’s my fault. But
we challenged our kids at the beginning of the year that we were going to fight and hang on to the end, and our guys did that.”