The final score Friday’s Class 3A District 2 game at Dewey Field was Gilbert 38, Perry 14, but the more telling numbers may have been 73-38.
Gilbert (5-1, 3-1) combined for 73 passing and running plays from center, while Perry (2-4, 0-4) was held to just 38 snaps, resulting in a lopsided time of possession that simply exhausted the Bluejay defense as the game wore on. The Tigers mauled the Bluejays for 603 total yards — 443 of which came on 49 running plays — while limiting the hosts to 216 total yards. Perry passed for 137 yards and ran for 89. The Jays have totaled over 100 rushing yards just five times in their past 20 games and have not had a 100-yard rusher since week seven of the 2014 season.
Tiger quarterback Steven Lawrence was everything as advertised, torching the Jays for 226 yards on 19 runs while hitting 11-of-24 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown while being intercepted once.
Perry, as usual, was stout defensively in the first half until finally being worn down by a lack of possession. The defense kept the game scoreless in the first quarter, with Gilbert taking a 3-0 lead early in the second period on an Andrew Thatcher 26-yard field goal after having been turned away three times inside the 10-yard line.
The hosts had a short drive before punting, giving the guests possession on their own 18-yard line. A 14-play, 82-yard drive followed, with Cody Dvorak bursting over from four yards out for a 10-0 Tiger lead.
Perry responded four minutes later with what has been one of the more effective offensive weapons, speedy wide out Reece Dunlap. Quarterback Alexis Garrido found the elusive junior crossing from left-to-right behind the linebackers and hit him in stride. Dunlap raced away from his closest pursuer, then turned up the sideline in front of the Perry faithful and dashed 66 yards to the end zone, with German Alvarenga’s PAT slicing the Homecoming deficit to 10-7.
Unfortunately the Tigers found the 2:05 left on the second quarter clock more than enough time to add another score of their own, with Dvorak diving in from two yards out for a 17-7 lead with 40 seconds left in the half.
Perry looked crisp passing the ball at times and mounted a solid drive on their first possession of the third quarter. The Jays marched all the way to the Tiger five-yard line before settling for a 22-yard field goal attempt, which was missed badly.
The missed opportunity gave Gilbert the ball on the 20, and Lawrence immediately cashed in, running wide off left tackle, cutting back and eluding at least four would-be tacklers in a frantic 80-yard dash that moved the score to 24-7.
The sudden 10-point swing could have induced Perry to fold, but the Bluejays refused to yield, launching an eight-play, 65-yard drive that once more moved the ball to the Tiger five-yard line. This time the hosts cashed in, with Dunlap taking a jet sweep off right tackle, then cutting inside a block to score and trim the Gilbert lead to 24-14.
Gilbert had continual success running wide off the left side of their offense, mixing those runs with the occasional pass and an increasing diet of Dvorak runs between the tackles. An eight-play, 80-yard drive followed Dunlap’s second score, with Lawrence hitting Keegan Sturdy for a 33-yard touchdown and a 31-14 Tiger lead entering the fourth quarter.
An eight-yard Dvorak run up the middle of the defense with three minutes to play capped the scoring.
Dvorak finished with 115 yards on 21 carries and scored three times, with Ajay Reed carrying three times for 61 yards. Sturdy (3-54, 1 TD), Reed (3-45), Philip Roetman (3-47), Dvorak (1-9) and Landon Howard (1-5) all caught passes for the visitors, with Roetman returning an interception one yard.
Garrido was 8-14-1 for 136 yards and a TD through the air, with Dunlap (3-87, 1 TD), Janier Puente (4-24), Nic Fellom (1-24) and Brandon Kenyon (1-2) catching passes. Wyatt Halling tossed three passes, completing one for one yard.
Adan Medina rushed eight times for 43 yards and Dunlap three times for 31 yards and a score while Mark Campos carried four times for 29 yards to pace the ground game. Garrido (4, minus-8) and Fellom and Halling (one carry for a loss of three yards each) also ran the ball for the home team.
Brandon Juarez led Perry with 10 tackles, with Campos and Fellom each making eight stops while Kaleb Olejniczak had seven denials. Conner Kenyon added five tackles, with Campos twice recovering Tiger fumbles.
Perry will head north to face Webster City (5-1, 3-1) Friday. The Lynx fell, 31-25, to host Gilbert to open district play, but since then have whipped Greene County (49-6), Ballard (35-7) and DC-G (31-10).