Neither team made much progress in the first quarter. Hamilton RB Cody Engelbrecht put on a bit of a show with some fancy footwork and dicey moves, cutting up the Gilbert defense on a 42 yard rush. However, the Huskies were forced to attempt a 45 yard field goal (Dominic Papa) that came just short and bounced off the crossbar.
Gilbert was plagued by multiple penalties in the late first quarter and early second quarter. On two different fourth and one plays, Gilbert was penalized, creating a couple of fourth and six plays. Of course, Gilbert was then forced to turn the ball over on punts. But the Tigers came to life in the last minutes of the half. Gilbert started with the ball on the 19 yard line and after a few plays, including a 29 yard pass completion from Kyle Newhall-Caballero to Michael Neilson, the Tigers were on the Husky 23. Since Gilbert was out of timeouts, they were forced to try a 40 yard "buzzer beater" field goal which was just short (Jacob O'Haver).
This was not the same Hamilton that I had watched earlier in the season. Travis Dixon and his offense were not as aggressive as they had been previously. Other than Englebrecht's one run, Hamilton was held to 18 yards rushing in the first half. Dixon's normally potent passing game was no where to be seen. Maybe Hamilton was holding back for some reason… I don't know.
The Huskies decided to expand their horizons offensively in the second half. This is what I had been waiting to see and what I had seen in the past. Mekell Wesley, a favorite target of Dixon's, started out the third quarter with a 26 yard reception. Hamilton also decided to try the option a lot more, giving both Dixon and his running backs more room to run. The first points of the game finally came on a Hamilton fourth and two which Englebrecht turned into a 34 yard touchdown run (Papa extra point good). Minutes later, the Huskies had the ball back and were on the move again. Wesley made another great catch, this time for 41 yards. Hamilton was now at the Gilbert 11 yard line. Earlier in the season, you could have bet all your money that Hamilton was going to score a touchdown, but they just were not as strong. I should also mention, however, that Gilbert's defensive line was playing an impressive game. Nonetheless, Hamilton ended up with three points off a 35 yard Papa field goal.
Gilbert made a worthy effort in the fourth quarter, but was just not strong enough. After a 39 yard rush by Bobby Ili, which put the Tigers at the two yard line, Gilbert was stopped on all four downs. Gilbert could not convert and Hamilton took over. The Tigers made one last push with just over 3:30 left in the game. Newhall-Caballero completed a 43 yard pass to Neilson putting Gilbert at the Hamilton 9 yard line. Newhall-Caballero then connected with Mark Kelly for an 11 yard touchdown pass on the next play (O'Haver extra point good). Unfortunately, the Tigers just didn't have enough time left. Hamilton ran out the clock on their last possession. Final score…
HAMILTON 10 GILBERT 7
I was so impressed with Dixon and the Hamilton offense the first time that I watched them play that I was excited to see what they would do tonight. They really didn't do much of anything. They got the job done and I guess that's the bottom line. If they hope to put up points on a stingy,and now angry, Chandler D next week, Hamilton needs to get back to their old form.
Mekell Wesley of Hamilton impressed me the first time I watched him and although he didn't stand out as much tonight, he still made some terrific grabs. Four receptions for 92 yards… not too shabby.