The decision to postpone the game was not really because of the football game, but mainly because of the Homecoming festivities and the celebration of 100 years since football began in Gilmer, as Coach Jeff Traylor explained after the big win.
“We did it not so much for football as Homecoming and the 100-year reunion. We could have played football last night. It would have been fine. We had so many things going on, we just thought it was the right thing to do for the cheerleaders, majorettes, the band and the Stars and all that other stuff. Football is much more than just a football team. It is a community involvement and we did what was best for the community.”
As always seems to be the case, the stubborn Tigers did not go away without a fight. Even though the Bucks did not play a perfect game, they still were dominating on both sides of the ball.
Daingerfield won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. DeVondrick Dixon took the opening kick at his 17 and returned it out to the 32. The fired up Tiger defense forced a three-and-out and Tanner Barr booted a 45-yard punt that was returned to the Tiger 38 by Calvin Bryant.
The Black Flag Defense forced a three-and-out and the ensuing punt was muffed at the 31. Chase Tate got the ball at the 6, but there were two fouls on the play. Gilmer was penalized back to the 3 for an illegal block in the back and then the visitors were penalized 15 for a personal foul and Barr and the offense went back on the field.
It took only 42 seconds and two plays for the offense to get into the end zone for the first time in the contest. Barr lost a yard on the first play, and then connected with Dixon for an 83-yard TD pass, and with 8:16 left in the first quarter, Gilmer led 7-0 after Pablin Olivares connected on the PAT.
Olivares nicked away to the Daingerfield 24 and Bryant didn’t go down until he was at the Buckeye 29. Keris Alexander was intercepted by Blevin Burns at the Buckeye 16 on a fourth-and-two pass and Gilmer took back over on offense.
Barr led his charges forward for two first downs, but the Tigers forced a punt on the next series. There was no return on the kick and Daingerfield set up on their 39 with 3 minutes exactly left in the opening quarter.
Keenan Whetstone ran for a 30-yard gain on the first play of the drive, but three plays later Spencer Alexander fumbled the ball and Darrian Lewis scooped up the loose pigskin and flew down the field 77 yards for the second Gilmer score of the day. Olivares was true on the kick and Gilmer led 14-0 with 1:51 left in the first quarter.
Whetstone returned the Olivares kick 15 yards out to his 34 and two plays later another Daingerfield fumble was recovered by Blevin Burns and Gilmer was on offense yet again.
The possession did not go well. Barr lost 11 yards and then Corey Smith grabbed a loose ball and returned it 33 yards. He fumbled the pigskin as well, but Gentry Alexander was in the right place at the right time. The ball went right into his arms and he raced the final 22 yards into the end zone. The PAT was good and the score was 14-7 with 41.1 seconds left in the opening stanza.
Gilmer had two three-and-outs with a Daingerfield three-and-out sandwiched in between, and the Tigers then went on offense again at their 24 with 8:28 left in the first half.
The visitors moved the 76 yards to pay dirt in only three plays and took 1:50 off the clock. The TD came on a 74-yard connection from Keris Alexander to Whetstone with 6:38 left in the half. Whetstone’s PAT appeared to be partially blocked, but nonetheless, the Bucks were called for roughing the kicker, and after the mark off, Whetstone tied the game at 14.
It was obvious the quick score put fire in the eyes of the Buckeyes. After the next kickoff, Barr led his troops 69 yards in six plays that consumed only 1:21 before they took the lead for good. Key play in the drive was a 48-yard connection from Barr to Desmond Pollard. Kris Boyd scored on the next play on a 2-yard run with 5:17 left in the half. Barr connected with DeMarco Boyd on a fake kick pass and the Gilmer lead went to 22-14
Daingerfield started their next drive from their 11. The Black Flag forced another three-and-out and Gilmer took back over at their 34 after a 30-yard kick. Unfortunately, Kris Boyd lost the ball on the first play and the Tigers took back over on their 34.
The Black Flag issued another three-and-out, but the Bucks fumbled the punt away and the Tigers were back in business at the Gilmer 40. They picked up two first downs, but the half ended on an incomplete pass on second down on the next series.
The second half got underway with the Black Flag imposing their will again, forcing another three-and-out. A 31-yard Tiger punt with no return set the offense back up at the Tiger 47. Gilmer moved the ball 31 yards on five plays and took 1:13 off the clock, but the drive stalled and Olivares kicked a 33-yard field goal and Gilmer led 25-14 with 8:41 left in the third quarter.
The visitors were determined to continue fight. After Olivares’ kickoff went out of bounds, Daingerfield went on offense at their 30. They ran 3:35 off the clock and moved the 70 yards in seven plays. The score came on a 3-yard run by Keris Alexander with 5:06 left in the quarter. Key play in the drive was a 39-yard run by Cordarious Anderson on the second play of the drive. The PAT was no good, but the visitors narrowed the score to 25-20.
Dixon returned the kick following the score 19 yards out to his 34. Barr picked up runs of 12 and 24, with a 5-yard false start penalty between the two runs, but the blue and white defense stiffened and Gilmer lined up for what would turn out to be a fake field goal. The Tigers smelled the play out and DeMarco Boyd was dropped for a 3-yard loss and the visitors took over on their 18.
On the first play, Alexander hit Keaton Key, but after a gain of three, he fumbled the ball away and John McPherson recovered for the Black Flag and the offense was in prime territory at the Tiger 17.
It took only 2 plays and 19 seconds for Barr to lead the offense into the end zone. Kris Boyd ran for 12 on the first play and Chase Tate followed that with a 5-yard scoring dash with exactly three minutes left in the third period. A 2-point conversion run by DeMarco Boyd out of the swinging gate was good, and Gilmer pushed the advantage to 33-20.
Olivares next kick went out of the end zone and the Tigers set up at their 25. They proved once again they were not going to quit, scoring what would be their final TD of the game in just 2 plays that took only 57 seconds off the clock. After Anderson gained 3 on a run on the first play, Keris Alexander hooked up with Key for a 72-yard TD pass with 2:03 left in the third. Whetstone nailed the point after and the score was 33-27.
Dixon took the ensuing kickoff at his 14 and had a great return down to the Daingerfield 28. Just two plays and 24 seconds later the Bucks found the end zone again. Tate ran for 15 on the first play and Jamel Jackson ran in for the score from 13 yards out on the next play. Olivares’ point after was good, and Gilmer led 40-27 with 1:39 left in the third quarter.
After a 16-yard return on the next kickoff, the Tigers began at their 30. They managed one first down on the possession, but the Black Flag shut the door on the next series and the visitors punted away to the Gilmer 32.
On the first play of the possession, Barr hit Jaidon Parrish for a 49-yard gain, but an incomplete pass on fourth down on the next series gave the Tigers the ball back at their 22. The Black Flag came up big once again though, as on the first play of the possession Malik Higgins fumbled and Darrian Lewis recovered for Gilmer at the Tiger 22.
It took two plays and 14 seconds for Barr to lead the offense the 22 yards into the end zone. The first play was a 21-yard gain on a double reverse to Dixon. The Tigers were penalized down to the ½ yard line on a face mask, and Kris Boyd ran into the end zone on the next play. After Olivares connected on the point after, Gilmer led 47-27 with 8:47 left in the game.
The Olivares kick was fair caught on the Tiger 29. Keris Alexander led gashed for a 20-yard gain on third down on the first series of the possession, but on the next third down DeVondrick Dixon picked Alexander and ran 76 yards into the end zone for what was to be the final Gilmer TD of the game. After Olivares added the PAT, Gilmer led 54-27.
Gilmer was penalized for a face mask on the ensuing kick the Tigers set up on their 37 after the penalty assessment. Whetstone ran for a gain of 39 on the first play, but just two plays later the Tigers fumbled the ball away and Gilmer recovered. To add insult to injury, the visitors were penalized 15 yards for a personal foul and Gilmer set up offensively again at their 44.
The Tigers forced a three-and-out, and after a 42-yard Barr punt, they went on offense for the final time. They picked up one first down on a 20-yard jaunt by Anderson, but had to punt away on the next series. The punt went to the Gilmer 37 and was returned to the 40, but the Tigers were penalized 15 yards for a face mask and the Bux began their final possession with 3:20 left in the game.
On the fourth play of the drive, Jordan Williams ran into the end zone from 17 yards out, but Gilmer was called for holding, negating the score. Barr then went into victory formation, and after two kneel-downs the game ended.
We asked Coach his thoughts after the win. “Yeah, we didn’t play well, but Daingerfield had a lot to do with that. They played hard like they always do. That’s just the way it is, they get after us; them and Gladewater; they get after us. Every time we play them, the play our tails off, and we didn’t play real well. That has to be addressed, and historically we don’t get ever away from Daingerfield and Gladewater very often. You look at our ’04 State Championship team and ‘09, it was a great ball game—very rarely you look at the history of our scores and they’re always kinda like this. I’m just glad we’re only two behind them now (in the all-time series); I think it is 30-28, so we’re catching up.”
We asked Coach Traylor his thoughts about the postponement and what it would have going into the opening game of District play against Gladewater this Friday night. “We’re all going to be even when it comes to that. We’ve got a couple of kids nicked up and we lose a day of rehab and they’re going to do the same thing. We’re pretty wounded right now, but we’re really developing some depth. We hope we get everybody back. You’d like for them all to get out there at some time together, but I’ve done this a long time and that usually doesn’t happen. They play great every year against us. We know it will be a really close ball game.”
We concluded our visit by asking the coach’s thoughts about the big halftime celebration of 100 years since football began in Gilmer. “I’m really grateful to all the guys that came back (for the 100th celebration), all the coaches. Boy, that was just awesome. Mr. (Sid) Moughon’s words were so kind and it meant a lot to him. He coached me in Little League Baseball. There were just a lot of guys out there to me that were huge in my life, and I’m just glad that we could do something to thank them a little bit. I know it didn’t go perfect. We probably said something wrong or did something not exactly right, but our intentions were to try to honor our past and I hope we did a good job of doing that.”