Gilmer jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Carthage then proceeded to score 70 unanswered points.
Carthage finishes the season with a record of 14-0. Gilmer winds up with a record of 14-2.
This was the Dawgs' second win over the Bucks this season. In the first meeting in Gilmer in September, Carthage won 42-14.
The Bulldogs won 4A Division I in 2019, but moved down to Division II earlier this year after realignment.
GILMER VS CARTHAGE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME STORY
When the Gilmer Buckeyes hosted the Carthage Bulldogs in week 5 at Jeff Traylor Stadium in Gilmer, things could not have possibly started any worse. The Bucks found themselves down 28-0 at halftime. The team never gave up despite the insurmountable odds they faced, and they actually cut the deficit in half to 28-14 in the third quarter and were on the verge of cutting it down to 7, but the Dawgs shut things down and added two more TDs to walk away with the 42-14 victory.
After that game, most pundits in East Texas figured things would end up just like they did the previous three seasons, with the Buckeyes losing to Pleasant Grove in district and then losing to the Hawks again in the playoffs and the Hawks and the Bulldogs would face each other in the State Championship Game.
That did not happen though, as the Buckeyes came together after the disappointing loss and improved on both sides of the ball and grew up faster than probably any Buckeye team in memory. Every play, every day and every game they gained more confidence and believed that they were going to end up doing something special before the year was over.
They did just that, beating PG on the last play of the game with a field goal by Jose Hernandez, resulting in the 31-28 walk off victory. Getting over the hump with that big win for the District Championship gave the Bucks even more confidence.
All the pundits still expected a Gilmer-PG rematch in round 4, but that didn’t happen, as Caddo Mills upset PG in round 3. Once again, the pundits predicted the Buckeyes would lose to Caddo Mills, but Gilmer was never in jeopardy of that happening, as they dominated for all four quarters in what was their most complete game of the year.
They continued that streak against Graham in the Semifinals in the first half before slipping a bit in the second half. Although he was a big disappointed with the last half of the game, Coach Alan Metzel it was something that he turned into a positive leading up to the Championship Game.
So all the hype was finally over and the big day arrived with Buckeye fans and the team and coaching staff knowing that if they played a complete game, they could bring back the school’s 4th State Championship Trophy in 16 years.
The way things started off for Gilmer, it looked like that might well happen. The Buckeyes struck for two quick touchdowns in the first quarter and had the Bulldogs on the ropes and their fans were in total shock.
Unfortunately, the tide turned quickly and once the Manheim Steamroller machine Carthage got untracked, they never looked back, scoring 70 unanswered points and winning their 8th State Championship by the score of 70-14.
Carthage won the coin toss and elected to receive to begin the game. The Buckeyes decided to try an onside kick, but Carthage recovered at the 50.
The Black Flag Defense came out fired up and the Bulldogs went for a 4th and 1 and the Black Flag held and Gilmer took over on downs at their 42.
It took just 3 plays and 1:08 for Tennison and the offense to find the end zone. The score came on a 52-yard pass from Brandon Tennison to Rohan Fluellen. Jose Hernandez added the PAT and Gilmer took an early 7-0 lead with 9:21 left in the first quarter.
Hernandez kicked onside following the score and he recovered the ball at the Carthage 48 and the Gilmer offense was on the field again.
This time they took 2:09 and 6 plays to move the 48 yards into the end zone. The score came on an 18-yard pass from Tennison to Rohan Fluellen. Hernandez added the extra point and the Buckeyes had the Bulldogs and their fans in shock.
Any other team would have started to question things, but not Carthage. They started on their 25 after the score and moved the 75 yards in 3:00 and took 7 plays to find the end zone. The score came on a trick play, as Craig McNew hit quarterback Kai Horton on an 18-yard TD pass with 4:12 left in the quarter. Irvin Jimenez added the extra point and the Gilmer lead dropped to 14-7.
The Bucks managed one first down on their next possession, but a 4th and 7 pass fell incomplete and Carthage took over on downs at their 48 with 1:27 left in the opening frame.
The Black Flag got the job done and forced a three-and-out. After a punt and 9-yard return by Rohan Fluellen Gilmer went back on offense at their 30. On the first play of the possession Tennison was intercepted by Brandon King at the Bulldog 38 and Carthage went back on offense.
It took just 2:27 and 6 plays for the Dawgs to move the 62 yards into the end zone. The score came on a 27-yard run by Mason Courtney with 9:56 left in the first half. Jimenez added the point after and the game was knotted 14-14.
The Buckeyes went three-and-out on their next possession, and following a 50-yard Hernandez put the Bulldogs took over on their 24.
They took just 3 plays and 1:03 to get into the end zone again. The score came on a 29-yard pass from Horton to Braeden Wade with 7:21 left in the half. Jimenez added the extra point and Carthage took a 21-14 lead and would never look back from there.
The ensuing kickoff was returned up to the Gilmer 20 by Davion Smith and the offense took the field hoping to stem the tide.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. On the second play of the possession a Tennison pass was intercepted at the Gilmer 14 and was returned into the end zone for a pick-6 by Brandon King. Jimenez added the extra point and the Carthage lead expanded to 28-14.
The Bucks went back on offense again at their 20 after the kick and things went from bad to worse.
One the first play of the possession Brandon King intercepted Tennison at the Gilmer 45 and raced into the end zone for another pick-6. After Jimenez added the PAT Carthage led 35-14 with 6:46 left in the half.
Gilmer went three-and-out on their next possession and after a booming 61-yard Hernandez punt the Bulldogs took over at their 25.
The drive would result in another score. It was a 6-play, 75-yard affair that took just 3 plays and 1:01. The score came on a 61-yard pass from Horton to Kavonte Brown-Hoskins with 3:40 left in the half. After the PAT by Jimenez, Carthage led 42-14, which was the final score in the game 5 contest.
The Bucks picked up one first down in their next possession, but were forced to punt once again on the second series. Hernandez’s punt traveled 45 yards down to the Bulldog 22.
Horton and the offense ran 9 plays and the first half came to an end.
Gilmer got the ball to begin the second half, knowing they needed to march down the field and get a score to stem the tide, but it wasn’t in the cards. They went three-and-out. Hernandez booted a 33-yard punt down to the Carthage 31 and the Dawgs set up shop once again.
On the first play of the possession, Mason Courtney blasted down the field the 69 yards for another TD. The play took a mere 11 seconds. Jimenez added the point after and the Carthage lead advanced to 49-14 with 10:07 left in the quarter.
The Buckeyes managed one first down on their next possession before Hernandez kicked a 33-yard punt down to the Carthage 29.
Horton led his unit on an 8-play drive that consumed 3:54 off the clock. The drive concluded when Courtney ran into the end zone from 23 yards out with 4:43 left in the third quarter. Jimenez was true on the extra point kick and the lead advanced to 56-14.
Jared Ward advanced the ensuing kick from his 5 up to the 30 and the Buckeyes went on the offensive from there.
On the first play of the possession, Brandon King intercepted a Tennison pass at the Carthage 31 and Horton brought his troops back to the field.
It took just 8 plays and 4:01 for the Dawgs to move the 69 yards to pay dirt once again. The score came on a 15-yard TD run by Montrell Smith with 27 seconds left in the third quarter. Jimenez added the extra point and Carthage led 63-14.
The Bucks had a three-and-out once again and Hernandez hit a 47-yard punt down to the Carthage 39 with 10:50 left in the game.
The Bulldogs put their second unit in for the possession, but the result was the same thing that had happened most of the game. They held the ball for 6:47 and ran 10 plays before backup quarterback Javarian Roquemore ended the possession with a 4-yard TD run with 4:11 left in the contest. Jimenez added the extra point and Carthage led 70-14.
Gilmer took over for their last possession at their 24. They picked up two first downs before the clock ran out to end the game.
We visited with Coach Alan Metzel after he got back to Gilmer to get his thoughts. We began by pointing out that the game could not have started any better for the Buckeyes.
“I agree. That was the prescription we wanted right there at the start. A lot of tremendous execution in the kicking game, I thought, you know with the onside kick. That’s the way we wanted to start the thing. We just weren’t able to maintain it, you know.”
We asked the Coach if Carthage changed their defense after falling behind 14-0 and he responded, “No sir. We kind of hit them quick and had them stagger a second and they just settled in and were just really tough to move the ball on, quite frankly. Once the momentum swung back, we had several turnovers for touchdowns, and at that point you’ve lost your zip. They had theirs and we didn’t have ours at that point. When you’re playing a really good team, we had to extend ourselves a little bit. We didn’t go to just try to get through the game. We went to try and win the thing. When you do that at times you get out there a little too far and that’s when those turnovers come. We kept trying to throw it down the field and they made some picks and so forth and it makes it tough, it does.”
We pointed out that even though it was a crushing defeat, there were a lot of other teams in Class 4A Division II that would be very proud to know they were the second best team in the State.
“You’re correct, Elwyn, and as bitter a taste as I have in my mouth from the day, I have a better taste in my mouth from the season for these young men. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.”
We asked Coach Metzel what he told the team after the crushing defeat.
"Well, it is tough to come up with words in those moments. I got back to the things that we say even when we’re winning. All this is preparation for life, and I mean that. There’s going to be times when the wheels are falling off and life gets rough, whether it’s your family or your job or the country, or whatever. A lot of people bail. A lot of people spiral out. They don’t handle it well. That’s when your resolve is truly tested. Can you just keep battling? You just keep doing what is right. I said today was one of those times. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t pleasant, and you’ve just got to keep going. I said that will serve you well as you move forward in life.”
We concluded by asking the coach if he had any final word for our fans and their support this season.
“I cannot thank Gilmer enough. Our sendoff, I mean you could just feel the emotion as we pulled through town, pulling up at the stadium and that first quarter where you could feel the energy. They’re just amazing. I love them, I’m grateful for them; I wish we could have had a better showing for them. They’re the best.”
The Scout Team Players of the Week were Luke Holyfield on offense and Da’Marion Hackett on defense.
While we are all disappointed in the results of the Championship Game, we need to focus on the “total body of work” of the 2020 Gilmer Buckeyes. They did a lot better than anyone except the coaches, the team and the Buckeye fans expected.
Additionally, we need to remember that at the beginning of the season practically no one thought we would play more than possibly 3 or 4 games due to the Covid pandemic. We are spoiled as Buckeye fans because of the great dynasty built by Jeff Traylor and continued by Matt Turner and now Alan Metzel. We want to win every game, but we know that normally doesn’t happen.
We have a ton of talent that will return in 2021, and as is always the case in Buckeye land, the future is bright.
To the Buckeyes, we want to say thank you for leaving it all on the field every game this year. The Army is behind you and will always be there to support you.
Lastly, to our fans, make sure when you run into any of the team members to thank them for their dedication and hard work this year getting to the State Championship. The 2021 season can’t get here quick enough!
We love our Buckeyes! Congratulations on a stellar season. pic.twitter.com/zvZzrBNx1K— Gilmer ISD (@GilmerISDProud) December 18, 2020