Coach Matt Turner had said after last week’s game that the team had some things they needed to fix, and they obviously took care of business and followed the “Trust The Process (TTP)” team theme during the days leading up to the game.
Despite the convincing win, the Buckeye Boss said there were still things his charges need to improve on. “We’ve got a lot of players that have got to get better. We got a lot of good work in; our guys, I thought, focused on getting better, but I don’t think we played as good as we’d like—our ball security wasn’t as good in the second half where we’d like it, but what I like is that our guys played to make the plays offensively, defensively and in the kicking game on every play. These guys, they trust the process and the process doesn’t know the score. It doesn’t know the opponent either, so we hope, and we felt like that went on tonight. Our seniors, our captains, they keep us on it.”
Friday night Morgan Lusty, just as he had done a week earlier in Texarkana against the Leopards, provide some early success twice for the Gilmer offense. We asked the coach his thoughts on Lusty’s play so far this season.
“Morgan is a senior captain and had a great off-season. He’s had these expectations and he’s playing them out. He’s certainly a guy who has trusted the process. You know, he was hurt a lot on and off last year and had to work through that and you like to see that (his success the first two games) for guys that work hard. He’s put in the work. He’s put himself in a position to do some things, and he’s taking advantage of that and doing it, and he’s getting a lot of help from teammates too.”
We asked Coach Turner if he agreed the team improved on both sides of the ball from last week. “We had less self-inflicted wounds tonight. The other night, and that’s not to take anything away from L-E certainly, they’re a great team, but we had more busts (last week), we had more lack of execution offensively and kicking it. I think we cleaned up some things tonight. It was a cleaner game for us. We’re a lot better when we run our plays and when we line up our defense and play it, and we did that.”
The coach was also pleased that the Bucks got a chance to get a good number of the second team players in for several plays in the contest. “We play a lot of people anyway. We’re gonna get you out there if we can. This afforded us a little more, which is good because we’re going to need every player. We don’t have a guy who is not going to be absolutely vital to this team, and they know it and they hear it all the time. Tonight’s a great night because those guys had an opportunity to do some things they don’t get to do in a normal game that’s closer, but we got good play out of everybody and good effort.”
Homecoming for the Buckeyes is on Friday, September 16, against the Liberty Christian Warriors. There is no doubt they are a much improved team from the one the Bucks played on the road in Argyle last year, as they handled a very respected Melissa team in their first game and upset Celina 10-9 on Friday night. They will provide another good test for the continuously improving Buckeyes this coming game.
As far as the game with the Roughriders, Center had an advantage early, as they stopped the potent Gilmer offense on downs at their 27 yard line to begin the contest, and then they moved 66 yards in 9 plays on their first possession and held the ball for 4:16 before taking what would be their only lead of the night on an Alexis Lopez 25-yard field goal with 5:0l left in the first quarter. That 3-0 lead disappeared quickly, as Poppy Brown and the offense went 70 yards in 6 plays and used only 2:11 before Braden Bates ran in from the 5 with 2:50 left in the opening frame. Adan Ibarra nailed the PAT, and Gilmer took a 7-3 lead and never looked back.
After forcing a three-and-out on the ensuing Center possession, Brown and company went to work again. He hit Lusty on a 61-yard pass into the end zone just 18 seconds 18 seconds after the drive began. Ibarra was true on the point after, and Gilmer was up 14-3.
The first quarter ended with the home team ‘Riders mounting what looked might be a scoring drive, but on the fourth play of the second quarter the pigskin fell to the ground at the Buckeye 28 and Ronnie McPherson was there to jump on it and Gilmer was back on the attack again.
Brown led the offense on a 10-play, 72-yard drive and took 2:47 off the clock before he tossed an 11-yard TD pass to Qua Heath with 6:35 left in the half. Bran Webb ran into the end zone for a 2-point conversion out of the swinging gate formation, and the Bux led 22-3.
The Black Flag Defense forced a three-and-out on the next Center possession and following a 10-yard punt by Brandon Renteria, Gilmer took possession at the 30-yard line and wasted little time finding the end zone again.
It took just 58 seconds and 3 plays to light up the scoreboard again when Rashaad Ward from in from the 4 with 4:29 left in the half. Ibarra’s extra point try was good, and the Buckeyes were up 29-3.
The Black Flag came up with another three-and-out on the ensuing Center possession and after a 25-yard loss on an attempted punt by Renteria, the offense was in business again at the 3. On the second play, Bates ran in from the 1, capping the 25 second drive. Due to a bad snap, the extra point was no good, but Gilmer led 35-3 with 1:41 left in the half.
Just as everyone in attendance figured that would be the halftime score, both teams managed fireworks before heading to the locker room. Center first returned the kickoff the distance when Jaterious Evans bobbled the kick at his 10 and regained control and went 90 yards for a TD with 1:06 left in the first half. An attempt for 2 was no good, but the home team narrowed the deficit to 35-9.
Not to be outdone, JaMareon Granville to the kickoff following Center’s return at his 20 and he didn’t stop until he was in the end zone. Ibarra’s kick was good, and the Buckeyes upped the lead to 42-9 with 52 seconds left in the half.
Gilmer found the end zone again with 9:29 left in the third frame following a 19-yard loss on a Renteria punt set the offense up on the Roughrider 7. It only took one play to get into the end zone again. Brown hit Granville for the TD with 9:22 left in the quarter. Ibarra was true on the PAT once again, the lead moved to 49-9.
Beginning with 7:22 left in the game, the turnover bug hit both teams. First off, on a very questionable officials call, Larry Montgomery appeared to get the ball over the end zone pylon and score, but as he was going down after the ball crossed the plane of the goal, the ball squirted out and rolled out of the end zone and the officials ruled a touchback and the home team got a break.
Then on the next play, Center fumbled and Bryce Overstreet recovered for Gilmer, but then on the very next play, Katavius Evans recovered a Buckeye loose pigskin. The circus didn’t end there though, as on the second play afterward Fluellen intercepted a Jayden Hicks pass at the Center 34 and returned it to the 24.
Unfortunately though, Gilmer coughed the ball up on their first play and Marquez Hall recovered and raced 70 yards into the end zone for what would be the final Center score of the game. Hicks hit Evans on a 2-point conversion, and the score was 49-17 with 4:07 left in the quarter.
Cade Camp came in and led the team to a touchdown on the next Buckeye possession. He engineered a 7-play, 28-yard drive that took 3:05 off the clock. The score came on a 1-yard run by Bates with 1:02 left in the quarter. Ibarra blasted the PAT, and the score moved to 55-17.
Neither team was able to light up the scoreboard in the final quarter. The Roughriders looked as though they would find another score, but after holding the ball for 12 plays and moving from their 16 to the Gilmer 8, Bran Webb ended the threat with a pick at the 1 that he returned out to the 8. Center had the ball one more time and the Bucks had two more possessions, but neither team threatened the remainder of the game.
Let’s pack Jeff Traylor Stadium out Friday night for our home opener! This will be the first of four home games in a row. Nacogdoches comes to town the following week, followed by Carthage, and then after the bye week, District play begins when the Pleasant Grove Hawks fly into Gilmer.