LEXINGTON — Hunter Biddle is listed as a tight end in the Lexington program, but he didn’t run like one Friday night.
Biddle rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries as Lex avenged last year’s season-opening loss and put an 0-10 season in its rear view mirror with a 26-19 victory over Ontario.
The win snapped an 18-game losing streak and was Lex’s first at home since Sept. 10, 2012.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Biddle said. “We tried not to focus on it and just on what we needed do this season.”
In addition to a pair of TDs, the 6-0, 175-pound Biddle set up the decisive touchdown by quarterback Joey Vore. Biddle was denied a third touchdown late when his 33-yard blast up the middle was called back by holding.
“I played some tight end last year (out of necessity) but we got some back this year and they knew I had speed and was a quick runner,” Biddle said. “I started out in the slot this year but we lost our running back (T.J. Gehardt, the coach’s son, with nerve damage in his arms and legs), so I’m back where I played as a freshman. The offensive line did an amazing job.”
Lex coach Taylor Gerhardt joked about listing Biddle at a position where he was impossible to find on the field. “Maybe that was the trick,” he said, laughing.
“My son is making his way back; he did all the snapping for us tonight and that’s a testament to his constitution. His buddy got called up and did a heckuva job.”
Ontario erased Lex’s 19-13 halftime lead by recovering a muffed punt at the Minutemen 35 in the third quarter. A personal foul took the ball to the 13 and the Warriors were able to capitalize as quarterback Alex Vredenburgh punched it in from the 2.
But for the third time, Lex answered an Ontario score. Biddle broke free up the middle, carrying it all the way from his 12 to the Warrior 11 for a 79-yard gain. On the next play, Vore sliced over the right side to put Lex back on top 26-19 with 1.9 seconds left in the third quarter.
That drive came on the heels of a goal-line stand by the Minutemen. Ontario lost a yard on third-and-goal from the 2 and then A.J. Nickoli flew in from the secondary to stop Vredenburgh for a four-yard loss, denying Ontario its first lead since midway through the second quarter.
If the Warriors score there, they have the momentum of scoring back-to-back touchdowns and that might have changed the complexion of the game for good.
“Give them credit; they stopped us from making plays all night,” Ontario coach Scott Kreger said. “They out-physicaled us up front all night. That was the key. We never gave up, but we need to fix some holes and do a better job of being multi-dimensional.”
Gerhardt also reflected on how big that defensive stand was for his Minutemen.
“We work on tackling every day,” he said. “The kids understand they can only take care of the now. They settled down and stepped up to the challenge.”
Despite coming up empty after getting to the Ontario 8 on the first series of the game, Lex came back with three touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 19-13 lead at the half.
Biddle, who was all over the field on offense and defense, accounted for the first two Lex scores on runs of 8 and 56 yards as the Minutemen twice countered touchdowns by Ontario.
Cory Swartzmiller then gave Lex its first lead by picking off Vredenburgh’s pass in the middle of the field and returning it 58 yards for a score just before halftime.
Ontario opened the scoring on a 16-yard pass from Vredenburgh to Hunter Plew, but neither team put the ball in the air from the 1:17 mark of the first quarter to the 1:20 mark of the second. Ten seconds after that drought ended, Swartzmiller came up with his pick-6.
The Warriors’ answered Biddle’s first touchdown — which capped a 16-play, 73-yard drive, all on the ground — in a matter of seconds as 6-0, 165-pound junior Treyvian Jordan burst 70 yards to put Ontario on top 13-6 midway through the second quarter. But the lead was short-lived as Biddle ripped off his 56-yarder and set the stage for Swartzmiller’s home run on defense.