Lexington and White Knoll was shaping up to be a classic until the Wildcats took over on both sides of the ball and the Timberwolves found themselves playing without star quarterback Aveon Smith for nearly the entire second half.
Taylor Mathias and Ahmad Bynem-Scott combined to rush for 256 yards and three scores and Elijah Ogden threw for two additional scores as Lexington opened Region 5-5A play with a 45-27 victory over the Timberwolves Friday night.
From the time Smith departed the game in the third quarter, the Wildcats scored 28 straight points to take control.
“Defensively in the first half, we couldn’t contain (Smith),” Lexington coach Perry Woolbright said. “He’s one of the best players around. We preached all week we have to stop him. We just didn’t do it in the first half. We preached it again at halftime. Unfortunately, that’s the only bad part of this ball game. It’s a great region win for us, but you never want to see a player like him go down. It doesn’t matter the outcome.”
It looked like it would go to the wire until Smith went down on a 34-yard scoring pass to Darius Derrick-Jones with 7:41 remaining in the third quarter. Smith launched the pass, then was hit and landed awkwardly. He had to be helped to the sideline.
Smith had run for 94 yards and score and thrown for 175 yards and two touchdowns before the injury. White Knoll also played almost the entire game without starting running back TJ Peebles, who left on the first series of the game. The Timberwolves were also missing several defensive starters.
“I can’t explain how we can go seven weeks and not have anybody hurt and all of a sudden it seems like everybody is hurt,” White Knoll coach Dean Howell said. “It’s a part of football, it’s a part of life and we have to find a way to get through it and get better.”
The Timberwolves led 20-17 at the time Smith left but the Wildcats responded with two quick drives to take control. Bynem-Scott scampered in from 33 yards to give Lexington (6-1, 1-0) the lead for good, 24-20, with 4:20 remaining in third.
With Smith sitting on the sideline, White Knoll (5-1, 0-1) went three and out on the next possession. Lexington marched 82 yards in six plays with Bynem-Scott capping the drive with an eight-yard run for a 31-20 lead with 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
White Knoll gained 20 yards on its next four possessions after Smith left the game.
“In my opinion, (Smith) is the best football player in the state so when he goes out of the game, obviously it changes,” Howell said.
While the Timberwolves offense was sputtering, the Wildcats were finding their stride. Mathias ran for 122 of his yards in the second half and Bynem-Scott scored both is his touchdowns in the third quarter.
“If you line them up against a lot of other running backs, they probably wouldn’t be chosen,” Woolbright said. “But we would choose them every time. They’re never going to break that 80 or 90-yard run but they going to pound it. It’s going to five, six, five, six and wear on teams. That’s hard to tackle for four quarters.”
Ogden, who is playing in place of Cal Herndon, who has missed the entire season, added a 45-yard scoring strike to Jayden Geiger with 5:56 remaining. That was the second time those two connected on a scoring pass as they opened the first possession of the game with a 47-yard catch-and-run.
Carlton Finney capped the scoring for the Wildcats with a 1-yard touchdown run. Donavan Johnson gave White Knoll its only points after Smith left with a 48-yard run with just a little over a minute remaining.
WK 7 7 6 7 - 27
Lex 7 3 21 14 - 45
HOW THEY SCORED
L – Jayden Geiger 47 pass from Elijah Ogden (Brady Bolin kick) 9:22
WK – Aveon Smith 41 run (Luis Orellano kick) 6:58
WK – DeAree Rogers 72 pass from Smith (Orellano kick) 7:16
L – Bolin 41 FG 0:00
L – Taylor Mathias 2 run (Bolin kick) 10:48
WK – Darius Derrick-Jones 34 pass from Smith (kick blocked) 7:41
L – Ahmad Bynem-Scott 33 run (Bolin kick) 4:20
L – Bynem-Scott 6 run (Bolin kick) 0:34
L – Geiger 45 pass from Ogden (Bolin kick) 5:56
L – Carlton Finney 1 run (Bolin kick) 2:32
WK – Donavan Johnson 48 run (Orellano kick) 1:31
Rushing: WK: Aveon Smith 13-94, TJ Peebles 2-29, Donavan Johnson 6-66, Jaelin Gray 5-25, DeAree Rogers 1-12, Murray Newell 2-3. L: Taylor Mathias 17-167, Ahmad Bynem-Scott 19-89, Carlton Finney 4-40, David Cromer 1-14, Elijah Ogden 2-(-8).
Passing: WK: Smith 10-15-0-176; Gray 2-8-0-(-2). L: Ogden 11-18-1-173
Receiving: WK: Darius Derrick-Jones 5-52, DeAree Rogers 2-67, Gray 2-14, Johnson 2-26, Eric Williams 1-13. L: Jayden Geiger 5-117, Dionta Sanders 2-20, Alex Reed 1-14, Anthony LaRusso 1-9, Zach Benn 1-8, Tristan Allen 1-5.