The #5 Gilmer Buckeyes continued their winning ways Friday night at Jeff Traylor Stadium in Gilmer with a convincing 35-14 win over the Liberty-Eylau Leopards. The win moves Gilmer to 7-1 on the season and 3-0 in District 8-4A Division II action while the loss drops L-E to 4-3 on the season and 2-1 in district play.
On a historic note, the win was the 700th in the history of Gilmer Buckeye Football, and with the 700th win, the Buckeyes become just the 15th team in the history of Texas High School Football to record 700 wins. The feat is even more impressive considering there are 1400 high school football teams in Texas. Congratulations to Coach Alan Metzel, all the Buckeye coaches and players, along with everyone who ever put on a Buckeye uniform to help the school reach this historic win. Thanks also to Buckeye football statistical historian Joe Dodd for the research and documentation to validate the victory.
Gilmer received the opening kickoff after L-E won the toss and deferred to the second half. Cody Guidry fair caught the ball at his 23 and the Buckeyes began at their 25.
It was a quick three-and-out with Brandon Tennison throwing three incompletions, and following a 43-yard Guidry punt with no return, the Leopards began their first drive at their 19.
The Black Flag Defense picked right up where they left off last week, forcing a three-and-out. The L-E punt traveled 41 yards to the Gilmer 33 and Guidry returned the ball to the 41.
Gilmer moved the 59 yards to the end zone in 4 plays over 1:10. The score came on an 11-yard run by Davion Smith with 8:41 left in the first quarter of play. Jose Hernandez added the PAT and Gilmer led 7-0.
The visitors took over on their 29 following the kickoff and took just 2 plays and 50 seconds to find the end zone for the first time. Damien Henderson ran for 12 on the first play and Jaydin Hampton hit Chris Lewis for a 59-yard TD pass and run with 7:51 left in the quarter. Henderson was successful on a 2-point conversion run and L-E led 8-7.
After starting at their 25 on their next possession the Buckeyes were three-and-out. Guidry nailed a 48-yard punt and the Leopards set up on their 31.
Once again the Black Flag forced a three-and-out and following a 42-yard penalty and a 10-yard penalty on the Buckeyes, Tennison and the offense hit the field again.
On the third play of the possession Jared Ward broke away on a 48-yard run, but lost the ball after a hard hit and L-E recovered on their 20.
The Black Flag forced another three-and-out on the possession and Guidry returned an Ian Jones 27-yard punt down to the Leopard 25.
The Buckeye offense found the end zone for the second time in the game in just 4 plays and 26 seconds. The score came on a 14-yard run by Tennison with 2:43 left in the first quarter. After high snap on the extra point try, Tennison improvised and threw complete to Smith in the end zone for a 2-point conversion and Gilmer took the lead back, 15-8. Coach Metzel told us in the postgame interview that the 2-point try had actually been called out of the kicking formation, but the snap made it appear he improvised on the play.
L-E started at their 35 on their next possession and managed 1 first down before the Black Flag forced yet another punt. The kick was fielded at the Buckeye 9 and returned for an apparent touchdown but an unsportsmanlike penalty nullified the score and put the ball back on the Gilmer 20.
Things went downhill from there as Guidry was dropped for a 2-yard loss on the first play and Tennison was intercepted for a 21-yard pick 6 by Shawn White with 11:02 left in the first half. A 2-point conversion was no good, leaving the Buckeyes ahead by a single point, 15-14.
The Bucks went three-and-out on their next possession and the Leopards took over on their 33 after a Guidry punt. On the first play of the possession Hampton fumbled the ball away and Luke Watson recovered the ball and returned it to the 10, but a penalty on the Buckeyes moved the ball back to the 27.
On a 4th down play Tennison was intercepted by Keeme Shepard at the L-E 27.
The Black Flag forced another three-and-out and after a 21-yard punt by Jones, the Buckeyes set up on the Leopard 43 for what would be their final score of the half.
The drive was 8 plays, 43 yards and took 1:19. The score came on a 2l-yard pass from Tennison to Dylan Fluellen with 7:34 left in the half. Hernandez was true on the extra point and the Buckeyes led 22-14.
The Leopards garnered 1first down before punting the ball away on the second series. Following the short 14-yard punt, Gilmer took over on their 38.
The offense managed 3 first downs, but a 4th down pass fell incomplete and the visitors got the ball back for 6 plays before the half ended.
Besides the struggles of the offense in the first half, Tennison was injured when he was sacked and Hurt completed the game at quarterback, doing a stellar job. Fortunately, Brandon’s injury appeared to be just a slight concussion, but he probably will be held out of the North Lamar game next week.
There was also a fight where an L-E player repeatedly punched Marshae Spraglin while pinning him on the ground and after a lengthy discussion by the officials and over the objections of Coach Alan Metzel, both Spraglin and the L-E player were ejected which was OBVIOUSLY a ridiculous decision by the zebras.
Gilmer kicked off to begin the third quarter and the Leopards began on their 22. Following a 10-yard holding penalty on the first play, the Black Flag forced a three-and-out and the punt only went 27 yards down to the Gilmer 47 and the Bucks went on offense for the first time in the second half.
Mason Hurt led the offense without missing a beat, and the team moved the 53 yards in 6 plays and 1:39. Hurt completed passes of 14 and 7 yards on the first two plays and Davion Smith gained 26 yards on 3 consecutive plays before Jaron Choyce ran into the end zone for a 1-yard TD with 8:41 left in the third quarter. Hernandez nailed the extra point and the Gilmer lead moved to 28-14.
L-E took over on their 31 to begin their next drive, and after getting one first down, the Black Flag forced another punt on the next series, and Gilmer took over on their 35.
Hurt led his unit the 65 yards into the end zone for what would be the final Gilmer TD of the game in 2:24 and 8 plays. The score came with 4:35 left in the quarter when Hurt hit Dylan Fluellen on a 20-yard scoring play. The PAT by Hernandez was no good, leaving the Buckeyes with a 35-14 lead.
The Leopards went three-and-out on their next possession, and following an Ian Jones punt Gilmer went back on offense at their 35.
Hurt led the Bucks down the field and they picked up two first downs before a pass was intercepted at the L-E 8 ending the scoring threat as the third quarter came to a close.
Damien Henderson burst through the middle for 42 yards on the first play of the possession, but the Black Flag shut the door on the next possession and Gilmer was back in business at their 20.
Once again, the offense seemed almost certain to find the end zone thanks to a 51-yard run by Jared Ward, but a 4th down pass fell incomplete and the Leopards took over on down at their 8.
They managed two first downs on the possession but Dylan Fluellen intercepted a pass at the Gilmer 37 with 4:13 left in the game to get the ball back for Hurt and company.
After picking up a first down, Guidry was forced to punt the ball away on the second series and L-E took over on their 32 with 2:48 left in the contest.
Takylan Hampton, replacing Henderson who was seriously injured after his big run, dashed for 48 yards on the first play of the possession. The visitors managed one more first down before Keke Johnson intercepted Jones who had come in at quarterback for an injured Jaydin Hampton at the Gilmer 7 with 1 second left on the clock.
Gilmer ran 1 play and the game ended, giving the Buckeyes the 35-14 victory.
When we talked with Coach Metzel after the game we asked him how big the win was, especially considering it made history.
“It’s just phenomenal to be a part of something that’s so big and goes all the way back to what, 1914? All the many great teams, people even back in the war eras where Gilmer was racking up win after win after win, pretty exciting to be a part of something that big.”
While we knew the coach couldn’t say a lot about the horrible officiating crew to called the game, we did ask his thoughts about the play where Spraglin was ejected, which obviously should NOT have happened.
“Here’s what I will say. I got frustrated when the fight stuff came up and I didn’t feel like it was equal in some of the way that worked out. I’ll have to look at the film and see how it all played out.”
We pointed out that even though it was a bit of a slow start for his team that once they got it going things were rolling right along.
“Yes sir, there were some things early where it was just us. We just didn’t execute. Then we did get going and I liked some looks and we had opportunities, you know, with that double pass. We were wide open and we don’t make the play. We had a guy wide open on a pass and we didn’t make the catch. There were things that were there tonight that could have been made that would have really extended it that would have made me happier, but I’ll take that win and the guys really fought hard.”
We also asked Coach Metzel if he would not agree the Leopards were the third best team his team has played this year.
“Oh yeah, they’re talented and every year L-E has guys, and this one’s no different. I think Coach Davis is a really fine person and he’s working to get those guys where they need to be. It takes time and he’s building his program.”
The coach agreed that the Black Flag Defense is getting better every week when we asked about their play.
“They are, and we had a couple of guys that were out on our defensive line, a linebacker that was out, so we were having guys that were having to play a lot more snaps than normal, but man, they were all into it. They did a great job taking care of the edges and just kept getting us the ball back.”
When we asked about the 2-point conversion pass by Brandon, the coach said, “Believe it or not, it was an incredible catch, but we actually had a fake called on the play. We were actually going to run that, it’s just the snap was way high and he did a great job catching it. It would have looked like that had we have had to do it impromptu but we actually called it. I went for 2 because they had and I was trying to jump back on them.”
When we asked about Tennison’s injury, he replied, “I think he’s ok. I think he got his head banged and he seemed to be ok. He had a headache. We’ll monitor him and go through protocol. It’s not something that we would rush him back on in any case, so we’ll be smart and see what the trainers think.”
Coach Metzel was very proud of the job Mason Hurt did when he came in to relieve Brandon after the injury when we mentioned the great job he did.
“He really did, and it was a tense time when he came in, and just an amazing job of picking up right where he left off. He leads the team. His leadership has been phenomenal all year and I could not say enough about the way he stepped in and really made some plays.”
As fans noticed, L-E “brought the house” most of the night when the Buckeyes were on offense. We asked if that was the reason he called more roll out plays for the quarterbacks during the game.
“Sure, yeah, you’re trying to get out of the pocket, change the launch point, those kinds of things because they’re bringing it and they’ve got athletes. It’s tough to hold up in there so you’ve got to get out on the edge and try get the ball out pretty quick.”
Gilmer will travel to Paris North Lamar Friday night to take on the Panthers in a 7:30 PM tilt. North Lamar is winless on the year, and has hard as this is to fathom for Buckeye fans after witnessing the 41-6 shellacking of Pittsburg last week, the Pirates defeated the Panthers last Friday 61-0! The Bucks should be poised for another yawner Friday night.