The regular season came to an end Friday night for both Gilbert and Dobson, but that ending was a little sweeter for the Tigers, who came from behind to take down the Mustangs 25-21.
Gilbert scored the game's final 13 points to pull out the win and finish the season 3-7.
“Obviously it’s been a long season for these guys, not the year we’ve envisioned," Tigers coach Leland Rogers said. "We just tried to tell them that they had a chance to end on a good note. They played the way we thought they were capable of playing in the second half.”
Gilbert struck first when Conner Helvig connected with Michael Layser on a 30-yard touchdown pass. Dobson responded right away with a 46-yard touchdown run from Jameson Baker to tie the score. Quarterback Gabe Martinez then gave the Mustangs (1-9) the lead with a 39-yard touchdown run.
The Tigers appeared to tie things up when Jonathan Ridout scored on a 2-yard run, but the Mustangs' Nate Halley managed to block the extra-point attempt after the touchdown, keeping the score at 14-13.
Ridout led Gilbert on the ground for the night, finishing with 13 carries for 91 yards.
The Mustangs took a 21-13 lead into the third quarter thanks to another Martinez touchdown run, this one from 10 yards out.
Martinez finished the night with seven runs for 79 yards and two touchdowns. However, he was just 6-for-13 passing with 46 yards.
The Tigers' comeback started with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Helvig to Layser. Gilbert tried for the two-point conversion to tie it but was unsuccessful, leaving the margin at 21-19 Dobson.
The two teams exchanged punts until midway through the fourth quarter, when a bad snap by Dobson gave Gilbert the ball at midfield. The Tigers capitalized through the air to get move inside the Mustangs' 5-yard line, and on fourth-and-goal, Helvig got in on a quarterback sneak from a yard out to give Gilbert a 25-21 lead. Although the two-point attempt was unsuccessful, the advantage turned out to be enough.
"We came out with a more run-oriented game plan, and it worked on the first drive,” Rogers said.“They made some adjustments and we got back to kind of letting Conner do his thing, and it worked for us in the second half.”
Helvig finished the night 11-for-17 for 179 yards passing and two touchdowns to go along with one rushing score.
“We just started executing a lot better than the first half,” said Gilbert quarterback Conner Helvig.“I feel like we were moving the ball pretty well; we were just able to capitalize better in the second half.”
Gilbert’s defense was able to hold Dobson to a four-and-out on the ensuing drive, and the Tigers ran out the clock to seal the victory.
Dobson finished the season with five straight losses in a season-ending stretch that included games with the likes of Hamilton, Chandler and Desert Vista.
“Each kid has learned to work through some adversities,” Dobson coach George de la Torre. “They played their hearts out all season long, it just wasn’t meant to be tonight.”
Gilbert 25, Dobson 21
G – Layser 30 pass from Helving (Carver kick)
D - Baker 48 run (Leon kick)
D – Martinez 3 run (Leon kick)
G – Ridout 2 run (kick blocked)
D – Martinez 10 run (Leon kick)
G – Layser 23 pass from Helvig (pass failed)
G – Helvig 1 run (pass failed)