The Dillon Wildcats fell to Gilbert on Friday night ending their 2020 season. Here is a photo gallery by Johnnie Daniels/The Dillon Herald, sponsored in part by Marlboro Electric Cooperative.
Photos by Johnnie Daniels/The Dillon Herald
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By Lonnie Turner
Dillon’s football season came to an abrupt end at the hands of the Gilbert Indians, 37-6, Friday night in the second round of the AAA state playoffs. It was pay-back from last season when the Wildcats halted the Indians’ season on the same field just west of Lexington.
It was a convincing win for the Colton Mason led 7-0 Indians. The 2019 linebacker turned running back this season rushed 39 times for 231 yards and one touchdown and caught a pass from quarterback Izayah Whitehead for another. The signal caller threw two more scoring passes to wide-outs Gage Gunter and Chance Jennings.
The Indian defense stopped junior Nemo Squire, the leading rusher for the Wildcats, for a season-low 25 yards on just seven carries as the Cats managed only 54 net rushing yards, another low for the year. Squire finished just short of a 1,000 rushing year with 938 yards,
Junior Wildcat quarterback Jack Grider scored the only touchdown on an 18 yard run late in the first quarter and connected through the air with Amari Huggins-Bruce six times for 97 yards. The 2020 transfer from North Carolina ended his first season as a Wildcat with 1020 yards passing and Huggins-Bruce ended his Dillon career with 621 yards on 30 catches.
The Indians struck first after recovering the opening on-side kickoff and driving inside the Dillon 5. The Wildcat defense held at the one to get the ball on downs, but on the first snap from center, the ball was fumbled and Gilbert scored on a safety.
Following Dillon’s free-kick, the Indians marched 42 yards on eight plays with Mason scoring on a 12-yard run to give Gilbert a 9-0 lead before the Wildcats could run an offensive play.
After kicker Cooper Burkett kicked the point after touchdown, he attempted another on-side kick, but it was covered at the Indian 47 by the Cats and in six plays, Grider took the ball straight up the middle and scored on an 18 yard run. The extra point kick failed and the Cats trailed by a baseball score of 9-6. The Dillon defense forced a punt on the next offensive series, but behind the running of Mason and passing of Whitehead and a quarterback sneak from the one, the Indians enjoyed a 16-6 lead at halftime. Mason carried the ball 20 times during the first half and had 134 of his game-high 231 yards.
Neither team was able to move the football to start the third quarter, but Gilbert put together an 11-play drive on their second series with Mason rushing eight times for 55 yards to get to the Wildcats one. From there, Whitehead scored on his second QB sneak and Burkett added the extra point for a 23-6 lead with 4 minutes left in the quarter. As the third quarter was nearing an end, the Indians took advantage of an intercepted pass at the Dillon 48-yard line and went on a 52 time consuming drive that led to Whitehead’s 15-yard scoring toss to Mason.
Grider went to the air on the ensuing drive with consecutive pass completions to Squire, Quashod Singleton and Amari Huggins-Bruce, who lost the ball at the Gilbert 8 after a 22-yard catch. The Indians took advantage of another turnover to romp 92 yards on eight plays for the final score of the game. The win by Gilbert will put them on the road this week to Camden for the Lower State title.
Gilbert ran 67 plays on offense while the Indian defense limited the Cats to only 37 snaps of the ball. Gilbert had 328 yards rushing on 54 carries and 107 passing by Whitehead for 435 yards compared to Dillon’s 54 yards rushing and Grider’s 206 passing.