With the exception of two scoring pass plays from quarterback Derrick Daniels to receiver Nick Johnson, the Black Flag controlled the much-improved Bear offense on the night. They made the plays they had to make to keep the game close enough for the Buckeyes to rally from a 13-0 halftime deficit to move to 4-1 on the season, and more importantly, 1-0 in District 16-3A play. The loss drops Gladewater to 3-2 on the year and 0-1 in the tough District of Doom.
The Bears won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. Daylon Mack kicked off to the Gilmer 5 and Chase Tate returned the ball for 22 yards to his 27, where the Bucks began their first possession. Tanner Barr and company picked up one first down on a 17-yard pass from Barr to Jaidon Parrish, but the drive stalled and Barr booted a 39-yard punt down to the Bear 37.
It took only one play for the Bears to find the end zone, as Daniels hit an open Johnson for a 63-yard bomb. After a successful PAT kick by Mack, Gladewater had a 7-0 lead with just over two minutes gone off the first quarter clock.
On the ensuing kickoff Tate returned the ball from his 10 out to the 39. Gilmer was called for holding on the play, but Gladewater was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and after the two penalties were marched off, the Buckeyes set up shop at their 40. They managed one first down on a 16-yard pass from Barr to Tate, but the next series ended when Barr threw incomplete for Kris Boyd on a fourth-and-six.
The Bruins set up at their 39 and gained 25 yards on the first play when Tyler Price broke a long run. On the next series there was a 10-yard loss when a high snap sailed over Daniels’ head and Gladewater was forced to punt the ball back to the Bucks.
After a short 11-yard punt from the Gilmer 48 to the 37, the offense was back on the field in good position. They managed one first down on the first play via a 15-yard pass from Barr to Trey Washington, but on a fourth-and-three on the next series, Walker was unable to snag a pass from Barr and the Bears went back on the offensive from their 41.
The Black Flag rose to the occasion, as the Bears lost 3 yards on the possession. Travis Dennis came in on fourth down and nailed a 40-yard punt down to the Gilmer 22. Tate returned the ball 24 yards up to his 46. Unfortunately, the Bucks weren’t able to take advantage of the good field position, as they went three-and-out. Barr hit a 31-yard kick that was downed at the Gladewater 23.
Once again the Black Flag did the job, forcing another three-and-out. Dennis hit a 30-yard punt to the Gilmer 39, but the Buckeyes were called for a personal foul on the play. What no one on the field realized was that the officials mistakenly marked 20 yards off on the penalty rather than the correct 15. The mistake prompted one media representative in the press box to say we must have had replacement officials at the game, mocking the recent NFL lockout of officials.
The penalty was overcome by the offense, as they were able to pick up one first down in the possession, but the next series netted only three yards and Barr was forced to punt again. After a 34-yard kick, the home town Bears set up on their 29. From that point they went on an 11-play, 71-yard drive that consumed 4:36, and scored their second and what would be their final TD of the game when Daniels hit Johnson once again, this time from 21 yards out with 3:39 left in the first half. There was a bad snap on the extra point attempt, but Gladewater had Buckeye fans in shock, pushing their lead to 13-0.
The Bux bounced back on their next possession with their best drive of the half. Tate returned the kick from the 15 out to the 31. The offensive unit held onto the ball for 3:27 and moved all the way down to the Bear 10 before Barr threw incomplete on a fourth-and-six with six seconds left in the half. Daniels took a knee and the teams headed to the locker room.
As the second half began, Gladewater fumbled the opening kickoff and the Buckeyes recovered at the Bear 25 and appeared to be headed toward the end zone. Boyd ran for 15 on the first play, down to the 10. Things then went awry for Barr and the offense, as he was dropped for consecutive losses of five yards. The next two plays were incomplete passes, and the Bears took over on downs at their 20, having dodged a bullet.
The Black Flag brought their A-game once again, forcing another three-and-out, and after a 28-yard punt Gilmer set up on their 36. Knowing he needed to do something to jump-start the offense, Coach Jeff Traylor went for a fourth-and-six at his 40. Barr’s pass was tipped and intercepted by Hagen Cooper, and the Bears were in excellent field possession on their 42.
The never-give-up Black Flag came to rescue yet again, giving up only seven yards in four plays, and Gilmer got the ball back at their 49 with 5:11 left in the third quarter. Knowing they desperately needed to get back into the game, Barr hit Patrick Finch on the first play of the drive. The Bucks were then tagged with back-to-back 5-yard penalties for a false start before Barr hit Washington for a gain of 10. He took a hard hit at the end of the play and lost the pigskin, but fortunately Gilmer recovered. Boyd found the end zone on the next play from seven yards out, capping a 3-play, 49-yard drive that took only 1:06. Pablin Olivares split the uprights on the PAT, and the Gladewater lead was down to 13-7.
After a return out to the Bear 24 on the kick after the score, the hosts looked like they might score again. McKenzie Stephens gained eight yards on the first play, and Daniels followed up with scampers of 14 and 21 on the next two plays. The Black Flag stiffened and allowed only five yards on the next series. Daniels was dropped for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-four, and Gilmer took back over on their 28.
This time it took only 1:05 for Barr and company to find the end zone and ultimately take a lead they would not relinquish. The 72-yard drive took only four plays. Boyd was dropped for a loss of one on first down, but picked up 16 on the second down play. Barr then hit Washington for a gain of nine to end the third quarter, and on the first play of the fourth quarter Boyd ran into the end zone from 48 yards out with 11:52 left in the game. After Olivares split the uprights again, the Buckeyes had their first lead of the night, 14-13.
Gilmer was offsides on the ensuing kick, and after the re-kick, the Bears took over on their 30. The Black Flag forced yet another three-and-out. Gladewater punted the ball down to the 31 where Tate took the ball. He was hit and lost the ball, but Gilmer was in the right place at the right time again and they maintained possession at the 31.
The Buckeyes seemed headed toward another score on the possession, picking up two first downs along with a 15-yard gift by the Bears in the form of a face mask penalty, but an illegal substitution against Gilmer in the third series of downs, followed by losses of three and one by Barr forced another punt. Barr kicked out of bounds to the Bear 9 with 6:15 left in the game.
Continuing the dominance they showed all night, the Black Flag garnered another three-and-out. Dennis launched a 46-yard kick that died at the Gilmer 46, and the offense set up for what would be their final score of the night.
It took only 1:49 and five plays for the Bucks to move the 54 yards into the end zone. Boyd lost two on first down, but Tate picked up 41 on the next play. Boyd followed that up with runs of five and four, and then Josh Walker got the TD from six yards out. Olivares was good again with the extra point, and Gilmer led 21-13 with 2:48 left in the game.
Hunter Holder took the ensuing kick at his 12 and returned it out to the 27, where the Bear offense began what would be their last drive of the night. Gladewater held onto the ball for six plays. Daniels hit Price for a gain of nine and then he rushed for seven. Then he hit Deandrew Price for a gain of eight before he was dropped for a loss of nine, but on third-and-eleven Gilmer was called for pass interference on a very questionable flag, and the Bears appeared to have new life. Fortunately, the Black Flag came to the rescue again as Daniels was forced to pitch to Price on an option play. Price was not expecting it and the pitch hit him in the back. Brandon Barnes recovered for the Buckeyes.
Gilmer took over at their 24. They were penalized for a chop block on the first play. Boyd then ran for gains of five and one before Barr took a knee four yards behind the line of scrimmage to run out the clock and give the Buckeyes the win.
Although they won the game and the defense played lights out, Coach Jeff Traylor, while very proud of the Black Flag Defense, was not pleased with the play of his offensive unit when we talked with him after the game. “Our defense was just so phenomenal. In these 13 years, people never give those guys enough credit. You have to understand we play fast-paced tempo, we throw it 35 times a game. Our defense just kept bailing us out all night. Our kicking game was phenomenal, and our offense was the same it’s been all year, just sputter, sputter, sputter, and I’m just sorry. We just have to get better, and that’s all I can tell you. We’re not doing a very good job coaching on offense, but our defensive staff bailed us out.”
“It’s just our kids believe in the program; they just keep believing. They won’t go away; they just find a way. The game of football is way too complicated. It’s really a very fundamental belief in each other, block, take care of the football, kicking and tackling. We want to win. We’ve got to take care of our quarterback a little better, and we’ve got to cut out all the dumb penalties…the self-inflicted wounds. I’ve got a laundry list, and I know you guys are tired of hearing it. We’re working, I promise you, and my kids just keep staying at it.”
We asked Coach Traylor his early thoughts on facing Chapel Hill next week. “I don’t feel good about anything right now. I’m just glad my kids believe in me. Right now, I’m doubting my own self. You’re going to see a mirror image of us. (Chapel Hill has) Very good kids; very young kids. They do silly things; we do silly things. It ought to be a heck of a silly ball game!”
Henderson defeated Chapel Hill last Friday night by the score of 24-6, so the 1-4, 0-1 Bulldogs will come into Buckeye Stadium Friday night KNOWING they MUST have a victory to realistically keep any playoff hopes alive. The Buckeyes need you to be in your seats early, be loud, and cheer your team on to another victory in District 16-3A!