As a result of that 42-12 loss, the Bucks had been waiting for a year to show the Lions and their fans what Buckeye Stadium “home cooking” was like.
The 66-32 win last Friday night was payback with interest for Gilmer, and it was a game that the team and the fans will relish and build on the rest of this season.
Gilmer won the toss and elected to defer, as they will most likely probably do every week they win the toss due to the Black Flag Defense. Jonathan Heasley took Pablin Olivares’ kickoff at his 28 and returned it out to his 35. Just as was the case against Atlanta in Week 0, the Lions went three-and-out on their first possession. After a 37-yard punt by Heasley, Gilmer went on offense at their 24.
Tanner Barr guided his team to two first downs, but on the next series the Buckeyes suffered three consecutive incomplete passes and Barr blasted a 51-yard punt to the 2 that was returned to the 18 by Jake Reed.
The Lions picked up two first downs on their next offensive possession, but ran out of gas when the Black Flag turned up the heat. Heasley shanked a 21-yard punt and Gilmer set up for their first score of the evening at their 34. It took only two plays and 28 seconds for the Bucks to find the end zone. Jamel Jackson picked up four yards on a run on first down and Barr hit Chase Tate on a 62-yard scoring play with 6:46 left in the opening period. Olivares was true on the PAT and Gilmer led 7-0.
The Lions began on their 30 on the next possession and managed only one yard in three plays and Heasley hit a 42-yard punt down to the Gilmer 37. They Buckeyes managed two first downs, but a critical illegal block ended up stalling the drive and Barr punted into the Prestonwood end and the ball came back out to the 20.
The Lions managed two first downs on the possession, but could not gain a single yard against the Black Flag on the next series and Heasley hit a 32-yard punt to the Gilmer 19 that was returned to the 24 by Tate.
Barr and the offense went full-thottle again, moving the 76 yards in only three plays and running only 39 seconds off the clock. Jackson ran for six on first down, Barr threw incomplete on the next play and then hit Desmond Pollard on a 70-yard scoring pass with 42.1 seconds left in the first quarter. Olivares hit the extra point and Gilmer led 14-0.
Prestonwood went three-and-out again on their next possession and DeVondrick Dixon returned Heasley’s kick 24 yards, from his 31 down to the visitors’ 45 as the second quarter began.
The Gilmer offense found the end zone quickly once again, taking only 1:04 and four plays to score their third TD of the night. Kris Boyd gained three on a run and then picked up 15 on a pass, but the play was negated by a personal foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. Jackson gained nine on the next play; then Barr hit Tate from 33 yards out with 10:43 left in the half. Josh Walker got into the end zone on a 2-point conversion out of the swinging gate formation and the led went to 22-0.
Heasley took the Olivares kickoff at his 31 and returned it to his 39 and the visitors began their first scoring drive of the evening. They picked up one first down and the Black Flag appeared to have closed the door, but the first of several questionable calls on the Bucks during the game resulted in a 10-yard penalty and the drive continued. Quarterback Twayne Blackwell capped off a 9-play, 61 yard drive with a 37-yard TD pass to Heasley with 8:42 left in the half. The point-after attempt was botched and DeVondrick Dixon picked up the pigskin and raced 89 yards in the other direction into the end zone, giving Gilmer an additional two points and a 24-6 lead.
The first of several onside kick attempts by the visitors was recovered by Nick Smith at the Gilmer 48. The possession was not memorable one for the Bucks. Barr was dropped for an 11-yard loss after a fumble that he managed to recover on first down. He hit Smith for a gain of 15 on the next play and ran for eight on the next play, but was intercepted by Michael Roach after his pass was tipped, and Prestonwood went back on the offensive from their 42 with 7:16 left in the half.
It took just seven plays and 1:24 for the Lions to find the end zone for the second time. Once again, a questionable call kept the drive alive. The score came on a 16-yard pass from Blackwell to Michael Irvin with 5:52 left in the half. The 2-point conversion was good on another pass from Blackwell to Irvin, and the visitors pulled within 10 points, 24-14.
On the ensuing onside kick attempt Jaidon Parrish recovered for the Bucks at his 47. Knowing they needed a send a message to the visitors that Gilmer was in control, it took only 18 seconds and one play to get into the end zone. Kris Boyd galloped the 53-yards to pay dirt, and after another PAT by Olivares the Gilmer lead was 31-14.
Olivares’ kickoff was returned to the Prestonwood 35, and the Lions went back on offense. The Black Flag rose to the occasion again, forcing yet another three-and-out, and following a 26-yard punt by Heasley that was returned by Chase Tate to the visitors’ 45, the Buckeyes began another quick scoring drive.
Barr hit Boyd for a gain of 22 and then followed that up with a 26-yard scoring pass to Pollard with 3:38 left in the half. The 2-play, 48-yard drive took only 11 seconds off the clock. The 2-point attempt was no good, and the score moved to 37-14.
After a 9-yard return of the next Olivares kick, the Lions set up on their 40 and took onlyfive plays and 1:22 to get into the end zone again. Blackwell started things off with a 21-yard run and capped the drive off with a 32-yard scoring run. The 2-point conversion pass was no good, but the visitors cut the deficit to 37-20 with 2:16 left in the half.
Ardarius Johnson recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt at the Gilmer 45. It looked as though the Bucks were going to score again before the half, but after gaining 21 on a nice run, Jackson lost the handle and Prestonwood recovered on their five. They ran two plays and the half came to an end.
On the opening kick of the second half the Lions kicked the ball away down to the Gilmer 1 and Dixon made them pay, returning the kick 78 yards down to the Lion 21. From there it took only two plays and 30 seconds before the Buckeyes were in the end zone again. Boyd accounted for all the yardage, picking up 13 on a run on the first play and running in from eight yards out on the next play. Olivares was dead on with the PAT and Gilmer led 44-20.
Realizing they were about to be blown out, the visitors responded on their next possession. Olivares kicked deep to the Lion 5 and Collin Whittaker returned the ball out to his 35. It took six plays and 2:25 for the Lions to close the gap yet again. A key play in the drive was a pass interference call against the Bucks on a pass that was 15 yards behind the intended receiver on a third down play. With new life, the visitors were determined to score. They gained 9 yards on the next two plays and Blackwell followed up with a 26-yard pass to Irvin and then hit Ryan Bradberry from 25 yards out for the score with 9:05 left in the third quarter. The PAT was no good, and the score was 44-26.
For those Gilmer fans who may not be aware, Bradberry is the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Jackson. Coach Jackson was a revered Gilmer assistant coach for many years. Bradberry is the son of the Jacksons’ daughter, Dr. Karen (Jackson) Bradberry and her husband.
Everyone in Buckeye Stadium KNEW that at some point during the game, due to all the onside kick attempts that the Lions would probably recover. That was the case on the ensuing kick, as the ball bounded of the shoulder pads of a Buckeye and the Lions recovered at the Buckeye 44.
It took only two plays and 52 seconds before the visitors were in the end zone again. After a 5-yard run by Blackwell on the first play, he hit Irvin from 39 yards and a TD. A 2-point conversion pass to Jake Reed was caught out of bounds, but the Lions were back in the game and trailed 44-32 with 8:12 left in the quarter.
The next onside kick was recovered by Quinn Fluellen at the Gilmer 48, but on the second play of the Gilmer possession Barr was intercepted at Prestonwood 34 by DeOnte Williams and the drive was over.
The Lions began rolling on offense again, thanks in part to a 15-yard face mask penalty against Gilmer, but they shot themselves in the foot with a critical holding call, and the Black Flag shut the door on an incomplete pass on fourth down and the Bucks took back over on their 29.
In one of the few times on the night, it was a three-and-out for the Buckeyes, and after a 47-yard punt by Barr with no return, the visitors set up on their 21. The possession was a short one, as Bradberry fumbled after a 2-yard fun and DeMarco Boyd recovered for Gilmer on the 23.
Just five plays and 1:49 later, the Buckeyes were in the end zone again. Key play was a 17-yard pass to Kris Boyd. The score came on a 6-yard toss to Josh Walker with 1:48 left in the third. The point after by Olivares was good and the lead extended to 51-32.
After a 20-yard return of the ensuing kickoff by Collin Whittaker, Prestonwood went on the offensive again. They mustered one first down in the possession, but knowing they needed a miracle to get back into the game, the visitors called a fake punt. Hunter Anderson made a superb tackle at the Gilmer 47, four yards short of a first down and the Bucks went back on offense.
Two plays into the drive the lengthy third quarter came to a close, and with the opening of the final stanza, the offense went into overdrive. Barr hit Jaidon Parrish for 11, then hit Pollard for a gain of 19 and followed that up with a 12-yard TD pass to Parrish with 11:24 left in the game. Barr hit Bryan Restine for the 2-point conversion and Gilmer led 59-32 and officially turned the game into a blowout.
The next Lion possession resulted in another three-and-out by the Black Flag, and following a 48-yard punt the Bucks set up on their 14. They held the ball for 11 plays and almost four minutes, but a fumble resulted in a Prestonwood recovery at the Lion 10 by DeOnte Williams and the visitors avoided what appeared was going to be another Gilmer TD.
The Black Flag wanted no part in a lengthy drive and forced another three-and-out. Another shanked punt traveled only 21 yards to the Prestonwood 36. Barr and the offense began what would be the final score of the game from that point with 4:49 left.
The drive consumed eiight plays and 3:15 and included only one pass, as the Bucks were wanted to grind out the clock. The score came on a 5-yard scamper by Jackson with 1:34 left in the game. Olivares was good on the extra point and the score was 66-32.
After running only three plays on their ensuing possession, Ryon Jackson fumbled and Gilmer recovered with 56.5 seconds left in the game. Barr came in with the victory formation, and after two kneel-downs the game finally came to close three hours and seven minutes after kickoff.
Not only did the Buckeyes give a payback with interest to Prestonwood for last year’s defeat, the game was special for another reason. The victory was Coach Jeff Traylor’s 150th win since coming back to his alma mater as head coach in 2000. CONGRATULATIONS on the big win, coach!
We talked with Jaidon Parrish after the victory and asked his thoughts about the great job Coach Kurt Traylor’s O-line did against a very good defense.
“It felt great. We had captains’ meetings and all picked games we were really looking forward to and they were of course, State Championship and Prestonwood. We had a lot of revenge having to come in. We went up there (last year) and we really didn’t play well. We came back and we played well tonight. Tanner Barr played a great game, our running backs ran well, and our linemen played really well. That defense was amazing; that Black Flag Defense, they are something to watch out for. We knew they had a very good defensive line and the offensive line knew they had to step up, and they did and Dylan (Adkinson) and Mitch (Lange) really led well on the offensive line.”
We also visited with Josh Walker to get his thoughts on the superb play of the Black Flag Defense in the contest. “We just knew it all week that we had to come out here and compete and they had a great quarterback and great running backs, great receivers and they could run and catch and we knew we kind of stepped it up and we just kind of hit the tone in the first quarter. We worked hard in two-a-days and in 7on7 in the summer to get us prepared. Last week we just came out and battled and it was hot and it was hot this week, but you just have to have that mindset to finish the game. We just know in the fourth quarter we’re going to win it.
Coach Traylor, like everyone at the game, was a bit exhausted when we talked to him after the contest, but he was proud of what his troops accomplished.
“It was very hard fought, long game. Whenever you play a really good team, you learn a lot of things about your team. We learned a lot of good things and we learned some weaknesses too, which is why it’s good to play people like that. Our emotion in the game, we had too much; we’ve got to learn to corral that a little bit, but it was such a huge game for so early in the year, it showed some of our inexperience of just being in big games, believe it or not, with certain kids, but some of my experienced kids lost their emotions, but we’ll work on that. I’m really proud of our effort; we beat a really good football team, and I’m excited about our team.”
We asked the coach about the great job the offensive line did in the game against a much tougher opponent than they faced in Week 0.
“They have improved tremendously. We didn’t finish the game well; we had some things there on the line late, but we finished the game really well. Those guys have gotten a lot better. Our line’s gotten a lot better, but we’ve got a long ways to go.”
We asked about the great play of the Black Flag.
“They were really good. The quarterbacks are really good, their running back is very good, they’ve got good receivers and their line’s really good and they’re well-coached. You’re going to give up some points against that, but our defensive staff made some really great changes that helped late in the game, but it was just really a game of attrition, a war of attrition, and we just lasted a little bit longer than them tonight. We had more good players tonight than they did.”
The Buckeye mentor had high praise for Ryan Bradberry when we asked about him.
“I can’t believe Coach Jackson was sitting on the Prestonwood side. I’ve got to talk to him about that. I told him before the game to get his butt back on the other side over there. He used to come to our camp. He’s a great kid and he’s a very good football player. Coach Jackson is one of my favorite coaches. I love him dearly and I wish his grandson played for me.”
We also asked about Jacksonville next week and the fact they have yet another McCown at the offensive helm this year.
“I coached him in camp his whole life and have known him and his family ever since I went there to coach in 1993, whenever I went there and started coaching—20 years. I’ve known him his whole life, literally. He’s just like the rest of them boys—they’re honorable people, they’re going to play hard, they can throw, they can run, they’re great leaders and they’re well-coached.”
The Indians will come into the Tomato Bowl for Friday night’s game at 0-2, but they have faced some tough competition, losing to Carthage and Palestine. We encourage everyone to make the drive to J’ville and cheer the Buckeyes on to another big win.