For the third time in four years, the Gilbert football team is off to a 4-0 start in the Chad Leaphart era.
The Indians held off Airport 42-32 Friday in the Eagles’ Nest. It was the second straight week the Class 3A school defeated a Lexington County foe in a higher classification and first win this season on the road.
“The big thing about this team that I like is how we’ve had lots of adversity in just about every game and some teams can’t handle that,” said head coach Chad Leaphart, who improved to 34-7 in his fourth season at Gilbert. “Some teams fold up from that. But these guys here, they don’t get down on one another. They keep pulling and fighting for one another and get the job done.”
Dre Cook helped Gilbert build a 21-6 lead in the first half with three rushing touchdowns.
In the second quarter, Airport rallied with two touchdowns in a span of 16 seconds. Following quarterback Markco Gilmore’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Coby Lynch with 1:33 left in the half, Coby Rivers recovered a Gilbert fumble and returned it for a score to make it 21-20.
With 1:17 left, the Indians quickly answered with a scoring drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Jy Tolen to Dre Harris with 38 seconds left.
The PAT by Rajan Cheema put the Indians on top 28-20 at halftime.
Airport scored on the opening drive of the second half as Gilmore found a wide open Bryce Rucker in the endzone from 10 yards. However, the two-point conversion failed and Gilbert’s lead was 28-26.
Tolen answered for Gilbert with a 57-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Reed on a 3rd and 27. The senior wide receiver outran two Airport defenders and made an over-the-shoulder catch as he raced into the endzone.
“It’s just what we practice every day,” Reed said. “We’ve done it a million times. So we knew it was there. We knew it was going to happen.
“It was huge. Jy just threw the perfect pass.”
Another 10-yard touchdown by Gilmore, this time as he recovered an errant snap and rushed untouched across the goal line. For the third time in the game and second on a kick attempt, the Eagles were unsuccessful on the conversion and tailed 35-32 going into the fourth quarter.
Airport had a pair of potential scoring drives, but were held scoreless. An interception by Ja’Mias Holloway helped set up Tolen’s third touchdown pass of the evening, this time to Alec Holt from 15 yards to close out the scoring.
Tolen finished 13-23 for 272 yards, while Ty Walker had a team-high 124 rushing yards. For Airport (2-2), Gilmore was 16-20 for 262 yards and three scores and Nanders Lawrence had six receptions for 107 yards.
Gilbert will face its third straight team in a higher classification and secondnd straight in Class 4A next week at Memorial Stadium against Dreher. It’s a matchup of Gilbert alumnus in head coaches Leaphart and the Blue Devils’ Treigh Sullivan.
Airport travels to Lower Richland next week.
OTHER LEXINGTON COUNTY SCORES
River Bluff 35, Lugoff-Elgin 19
Northside Christian 32, Newberry Academy 14
Lexington 35, Airport 28
White Knoll 51, Aiken 6
Oceanside Collegiate 49, Gray Collegiate 42
Newberry 31, Chapin 14
Saluda 50, Pelion 7
Wade Hampton 60, Swansea 14
Palmetto Christian 80, W.W. King 8
Bad weather Friday forced the rescheduling of 3 games:
Brookland-Cayce at Irmo 10 am
Boiling Springs at Dutch Fork 11 am
Mid-Carolina at Batesburg-Leesville