NORMAN — Luke Gifford expected to be on the field Friday night for Lexington, but it’s safe to say he didn’t expect it to come in the way it did.
Gifford, Lexington’s starting running back, had his night changed early in Lexington’s playoff opener against Lindsay, a 38-33 loss in which the lead changed hands four times in the final three minutes.
With eight minutes to go in the second quarter, Gifford found himself forced to assume his role as the backup quarterback. And, with Lexington down 26-12 early in the second half, Gifford responded. Leading the offense and rushing for two touchdowns, he pulled Lexington back into the game and even gave the Bulldogs a lead late in the game before some final-minute heroics put Lindsay back on top.
“Luke came in and did great,” coach Jeff Hall said. “He took over the offense for us and got us back into the game.”
Gifford’s big night may have come about because of a case of mistaken identity. Early in the second quarter, a skirmish resulted in starting quarterback Colton Langford being ejected for actions in the pile that film proved later he wasn’t even near. The referees could have pulled the wrong number, resulting in the misplaced ejection, Hall said.
“It was a rough game,” he said. “Something like that can change the game, but Luke came in and did exactly what we needed him to do. Both teams played really hard, and we just came out on the wrong end of the stick.”
Despite the disappointing end, it was a comeback season for the Bulldogs, who improved to 7-3 in the regular season after going 1-9 a year ago.
“What these kids did this year was nothing short of amazing,” Hall said. “That’s quite a turnaround for a group of high school kids. This has been one of the most enjoyable seasons in my career.”