The Van Bulldogs improved to 3-1 on the season after defeating the Gilbert Lions 20-16 in a Class A game Friday night at Van.
“We jumped on them early,” Price said. “Then we scored early in the third quarter and then just held on for the win.”
Van quarterback Tyler Gunnoe completed just two passes, but both were for touchdowns.
The first was the game’s opening touchdown for Van. Gunnoe hit Zach Blair on a 30-yard touchdown.
“Tyler made a great play fake and then found Zack for the score,” Price said.
Van took a 14-8 lead into halftime.
The second touchdown pass came with four minutes to play in the third quarter, when Gunnoe hit runningback Matt White in the flat. Blair made a great block that allowed White to scamper down the sidelines 70 yards for another Bulldog touchdown.
“Zach’s block is what allowed Matt to get into the open field,” Price said. “Then nobody was going to catch him.”
The score game the Bulldogs a 20-8 lead.
“We had a little breathing room, but we knew they were going to make a run at us,” Price said.
Although Van’s defense gave up some good gains on the ground and the Lions were able to score again, it was not enough when time ran out.
Van runningback Chris Halley carried the ball 15 times for 123 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown run.
“Chris brings it every game,” Price said.
Halley even threw the ball once. He hit Gunnoe on a two-point conversion play.
“I know exactly what I’m going to get from him every Friday. He is a player that brings an edge and ability that is something special,” Price said.
Gunnoe added 77 yards on 13 carries for the Bulldogs, while White added 10 yards to the team’s rushing total.
Gilbert dropped to 1-3 on the season.
An interception by Van’s Sam Williams sealed the win for the Bulldogs, as Gilbert attempted its final drive of the game.
Van’s defense came up with several turnovers, including an interception by Justin Toler.
Toler was honored during the game with an in memory #45 jersey his late father wore when he played for Van. Toler also wears the same #45 for the Bulldogs.
Halley and White each recorded 11 tackles for the Bulldog defense.
“We played well, but we also made some misalignments on defense,” Price said. “We have to get sharper mentally if we’re going to continue to be successful this year.”
Van will play Williamson, which is 2-2 on the season, Friday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at Williamson.
If Van can win the Class A matchup, it will put the team at 4-1 and off to a good start in its quest for the state playoffs.
“We are just taking it one game at a time,” Price said. “They are going to be bigger, but most teams we play are bigger. We just have to use our speed and be mentally sharp for this game.”
Williamson lost to South Floyd (Ky.) 36-30 last week and also lost to Gilbert earlier in the season.