GOOSE CREEK - Goose Creek hosted Lexington in a second-round game in the Class AAAAA Lower State playoffs on Nov. 12, and the visiting Wildcats made quite a statement.
The Wildcats (9-2) rushed for more than 300 yards and took control of a close game with a huge third quarter in a 28-14 win.
Goose Creek finishes the season with a 7-4 record.
“If we can’t run the football, it’s a long night, and we couldn’t run it tonight,” Goose Creek coach Jason Winstead said. “Credit Lexington. They knew what they had to stop, and they loaded the box on us. We tried to loosen them up with quick passes and it worked for a bit. We just didn’t play well enough to beat a good team in the playoffs.”
The Gators opened the game on fire offensively, needing just three plays to score the first touchdown of the night. Drew Moore found James Levine on a 45-yard pass connection, and the Gators led 7-0 less than a minute into the game.
That would be the bulk of Goose Creek’s offense in the half as the Gators managed just 136 total yards in the half, 59 coming on the opening drive.
Lexington went to work in the run game with Tyler Walker banging in from a yard out with 5:42 left in the first quarter. The Wildcats threatened again in the second quarter, but Goose Creek’s defense held strong on fourth down from the 10-yard line.
Lexington also had a punt return for a touchdown negated by a penalty, and Goose Creek was stopped on fourth-and-2 from Lexington’s 21-yard line.
Just as Goose Creek opened the game with a quick score, Lexington returned the favor on its first possession of the second half. Walker broke free on a 66-yard scoring run on the snap of the third quarter to give Lexington a 14-7 lead with 11:02 left.
Goose Creek muffed the ensuing kickoff and Lexington recovered the loose ball at the Gators’ 27. Two plays later, Keshawn Gladded raced 22 yards for a 21-7 lead with 10:46 remaining in the third quarter.
“Those first two minutes of the third quarter totally flipped this game,” Winstead said. “We let it get away right there. I thought we played okay after that, but we were too far behind.”
Late in the third quarter, an interception by Lexington set up another score, this time a 35-yard pass from Taiden Mines to Kamadi Maxwell. The Wildcats led 28-7 with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
Lexington’s defense stifled the Goose Creek running game all night. Demetri Simmons, who has rushed for more than 1,700 yards this season, had 20 yards at the half but managed a late 35-yard run for a touchdown with 7:43 left in the game.
“It’s always disappointing when you don’t win the last one,” Winstead said. “We had a good season, but you always want more.”