The visiting Rabbits kept the game close for a quarter and a half before the talent of the Bucks began to put them away.
Gilmer won the coin toss and elected to defer until the second half. Pablin Olivares opened the season with a pooch kick to the Atlanta 33 that was fair caught. The Black Flag Defense dropped the Rabbs for eight yards in losses in a three-and-out. Atlanta punted down to the Gilmer 30 and Chase Tate was dropped back at the 28 where the Buckeyes went on offense for the first time in 2013.
The Atlanta defense rose to the occasion and gave up no yards in the first Gilmer possession, forcing a three-and-out. Tanner Barr booted a 40-yard punt down to the Atlanta 32 and Jeremy Smith excited the visiting crowd with a return all the way down to the Buckeye 11, and it appeared that the Rabbits might take an early lead. The Black Flag thwarted that thought quickly, giving up only three net yards in three downs. Nick Bishop came in and attempted a 25-yard field goal, but DeMarco Boyd came through the middle and blocked the kick and Gilmer went back on offense at the Gilmer 20.
Barr and the offense managed one first down, but then had to punt away on the next series. After Barr hit a 43-yard punt and the Rabbs returned the kick six yards, Atlanta set up on their 39 to begin their third possession of the evening. The Black Flag forced another three-and-out and after a 34-yard punt and a 14-yard return by Chase Tate, the Bux set up shop and took little time finding the end zone for the first time.
Kris Boyd was dropped for a loss of seven on first down, but Barr hit Desmond Pollard for a 48-yard gain on second down and then Jamel Jackson scored from 12 yards out with 1:44 left in the opening quarter to give the hometown Bucks a 6-0 lead. Olivares added the PAT and Gilmer led 7-0. The score took just three plays, covered 54 yards and took only 51 seconds off the clock.
Atlanta’s next drive began on their 32 after another pooch kick by Olivares. They managed one first down, but were forced to punt on the next series. The kick was returned to the Gilmer 23 and the Bucks were in business again with 10:59 left in the first half. It took only one play to cover the 77 yards to pay dirt, as Jamel Jackson broke through the line and shredded the defense in just 14 seconds before he ended up in the end zone. Following a successful 2-point conversion run by Josh Walker out of the swinging gate, the Gilmer lead moved to 15-0 with 10:45 left in the half.
Olivares’ ensuing kick was fair caught at the Atlanta 30. After picking up one first down due to a 15-yard face mask call against the Bucks, Atlanta was forced to punt again by the Black Flag. After a 45-yard punt and a 12-yard return, Gilmer went back on offense at their 27.
Barr moved the offense 73 yards in six plays that consumed 1:55 off the clock in another TD drive. Key plays in the drive were a 31-yard run by Walker and a 21-yard pass for the score from Barr to DeVondrick Dixon. After a successful PAT by Olivares Gilmer led 22-0.
The Olivares kick after the score was returned to the 19 by Smith, and Atlanta set up for what would be their only score of the night. On the first play from scrimmage DeQuan Allen broke away for a 58-yard run around left end. Quarterback Chase Musgrove followed that with a 21-yard scamper and Allen found the end zone from two yards out on the third play. The drive covered the 81 yards in just 22 seconds. Following a successful point after kick by Bishop, the Buckeye lead was cut to 22-7 with 6:40 remaining in the first half.
The visitors were hoping to catch the Buckeyes by surprise, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by Blevin Burns at the Gilmer 45. Barr and the offense moved the 65 yards to the end zone in six plays that consumed 1:20. The score came with 5:20 left in the half when Barr hit Pollard from eight yards out. After another successful point after, the lead moved to 29-7.
The next Atlanta possession began on their 27 and resulted in another three-and-out by the defense. Following a 37-yard punt, Gilmer took back over at their 41 with 3:32 left in the half. Once again the offense hit on all cylinders. It took only four plays and 58 seconds for the final score of the half on the 59-yard drive. The score came on a 17-yard pass from Barr to Pollard once again. After the PAT, the lead pushed to 36-7 with 2:34 left in the half.
The visitors started on their 32 after the next kickoff. They managed a first down on an offsides penalty against Gilmer, but Musgrove was dropped for a 3-yard loss on the next play, and a 16-yard loss due to a snap over his head on the next play as the half came to a close.
Atlanta kicked off to the Gilmer 15 to begin the third quarter and Dixon got a great return of 34 out to the Gilmer 49. It took only three plays and 29 seconds for the Bucks to hit the scoreboard again. Barr hit Pollard for a gain of 25 on the first play, completed a 17-yard pass on the second play and hit Pollard from 9 yards out for the score on the third play. After the PAT, Gilmer led 43-7 with 11:31 left in the third quarter.
The Rabbits began their next drive on their 28. They held onto the ball for seven plays before Charles Williams intercepted Musgrove. After a 15-yard personal foul call, Gilmer set up shop at the Atlanta 38. It took just three plays and 50 seconds for Gilmer to find the end zone yet again. The score came on a 34-yard pass to Nick Smith. Olivares added the extra point the score moved to 50-7 with 6:47 left in the third stanza.
Atlanta began their next drive at their 31 after a fair catch and went three-and-out once again. Following a 32-yard punt, the Bucks went back on offense for what would be their final scoring drive of the night.
They took over with 3:52 left in the third quarter, and out of mercy on the visitors, the clock ran non-stop with the exception of time outs for the remainder of the contest. Barr led the offense for seven plays until the end of the quarter and Jaidon Parrish came in at quarterback at the start of the final period and finished off the drive.
Darrian Lewis scored what appeared to be a TD, but the play was nullified by a holding call on Gilmer. Just two plays later Parrish hit freshman Kollin Hurt on a 10-yard scoring pass with 8:20 left in the game. The score capped off an 11-play, 60 yard drive that consumed 6:43 off the clock. Tristan Olivares booted the PAT and Gilmer led 55-7. Atlanta was penalized 15 yards for roughing the kicker and the penalty was assessed on the kickoff.
Tristan Olivares kicked off from the Atlanta 45 down to the goal line and Smith returned the ball out to the Rabbit 17. The visitors managed two first downs but were then forced to punt down to the Gilmer 31.
Sophomore Zac Spears came in at quarterback for the final Gilmer possession of the night. Kelton Collier ran for 13 on the first play of the possession, but the Bucks were not able to pick up a first down on a fourth down run by Collier and Atlanta took over with 1:57 left in the game. They ran four plays and the game ended with the blowout 57-7 victory in the books.
We asked quarterback Tanner Barr his thoughts on the offensive barrage in the game.
“Our first couple of possessions were a little bit shaky. I think we were a little bit nervous and a little rusty, but once we got in a groove in our offense and once we got momentum rolling, our line played great and our running backs ran very well and our receivers ran well and I was really pleased how we did. I thought we executed very well. I think we can improve on every aspect of the game: running, passing, catching, blocking; I mean every day we can get better at something, so if we get better at those every single day, I think we’ll have a chance to beat them (Prestonwood).
“This defense, you can’t say enough about them. I’m ready to see what they’ll do at the end of the year; I mean just how good they’ll be and how much they’ll improve. Tonight and in practice, they are lights out; they’re lights out every time they go out on the field. Our defense is pretty good this year, for sure.”
Coach Jeff Traylor was pleased with his team’s performance when we talked with him after the big win. “They (Atlanta) played really hard. He’s got a new team and Matt’s (McClure) rebuilding over there and I was really impressed with how hard they played. They gave us a good effort, and you know, we just got some skilled kids that made some plays and we got ahead of them a little bit, but we’ve got a lot to work on and we’ll find out a lot more about our team next week. Obviously, we got embarrassed last year by them (Prestonwood), and we’ll just see how much more we stack up with them this year compared to last year.”
We asked Coach Traylor about the superb play of Tanner Barr and the receivers. “Yeah, our quarterback’s returning, and whenever we have our quarterback returning we have a lot of good plays we can call, so he makes us look smart because he knows what he’s doing and he’s got some kids he can put the ball on. We’ll learn a lot more next week.”
We asked the coach his thoughts on the dominance of the Black Flag Defense. “It’s still hard to tell right now because we played a team that’s so inexperienced. Atlanta has a really good quarterback, their tailback…we’ll just find out a lot more next week. I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions. I’ll know a little more next week. We ran the clock most of the second half so we did not get to play as many players or run as many plays as I’d like to, so we’ll do some extra conditioning next week or we won’t be ready to go next week because we didn’t get a full game in.”
We asked if he knew much about this year’s Prestonwood team. “I don’t. I’ll know more after tomorrow night (Prestonwood played Henderson in Plano last Friday night.) We watched a lot of video and worked on Atlanta all year long and we watched a lot of Prestonwood video from last year but we don’t have anything on them yet. We’ll get to work on them tomorrow; we’ll leave about 2 and head to Dallas and scout those guys in Dallas.”
We concluded by asking the coach’s thoughts on officially opening the newly remodeled stadium. “Oh yeah, it is just beautiful. We had a great crowd for a Thursday night and it will just keep growing if we keep winning!”
We want to give a big applause to the Buckeye fans for their support at this first game and want to encourage everyone to be sure to make it to Buckeye Stadium Friday night as we prepare to show Prestonwood how football is played in Gilmer. It is payback with interest time in Gilmer!