By Christian Potts
The Norman Transcript
WASHINGTON — Playing without their starting quarterback, Washington took to a simple but effective offensive game plan in Friday’s Class 2A playoff opener — a steady dose of pounding away with its run game behind an experienced and physical offensive line.
The result was pretty efficient, as tailback Luke Ladlee and new quarterback Brady Kulbeth hit for big plays throughout the first half, staking the Warriors to a four-touchdown halftime lead and eventually a 41-20 triumph over Lexington at Reed Field.
The numbers were impressive for the Warrior pair — Kulbeth finished with 161 yards on 12 carries, while Ladlee added another 152 yards on 22 carries on a night their team totaled 361 yards on the ground. Each found the end zone three times, and each praised the work of the linemen paving the way.
“The holes were everywhere,” Ladlee said. “We could pretty much run it where we wanted.”
Added Kulbeth, “that’s the best I’ve ever seen our line block.”
The Warriors played without star quarterback and defensive back Brock Harmon, who suffered a season-ending knee injury a week ago against Lindsay.
But a year-in, year-out power like the Warriors — who are in the postseason for a 23rd consecutive year — are far more than a one-man team, as they proved Friday night.
“We knew that was a big loss, but we knew Brock would be right there with us, just like another coach on the sideline,” Ladlee said.
Kulbeth moved from receiver to quarterback for the Warriors and also entered the defensive starting lineup at safety as the Warriors had to shift things around there also. While he’s been around plenty of big games in his high school career, Kulbeth admitted this week was a little different.
“Getting back on the field as a quarterback, I felt nervous, a lot more than when I was playing slot receiver,” he said.
The nerves didn’t show much, as Kulbeth hit the Bulldogs for several big plays. His first five carries went for 118 yards and three first-half touchdowns, staking Washington to a 35-7 lead.
Lexington showed some life after halftime, forcing fumbles on the first two Warrior series and getting within 35-14 on Luke Gifford’s one-yard score. But it got no closer.
Lexington has enjoyed a resurgence under Coach Jeff Hall, making back-to-back playoff appearances. They were led on the night by Gifford, who had 117 yards on 25 carries, and quarterback Kyle Hokett, who threw for the game’s first score and ran for a score in the final minute.
The Bulldogs finished at 5-6, while the Warriors move to 8-2 and a second round date against Hennessey, a 28-20 winner against Crooked Oak. It’s a rematch of a second-round game from a year ago in which the Eagles knocked Washington from the playoffs.
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