By ELWYN HENDERSON
The Gilmer Buckeyes will advance on to the Class 4A DII Regional Semifinals this week to take on Van following a 68-31 victory over the Caddo Mills Foxes at Mesquite Hanby Stadium Friday night. The win propelled Gilmer to 11-1 on the season while the loss drops Caddo Mills to 8-4 and ends their season.
Van defeated Sunnyvale 35-25 Friday night in Rockwall to earn the right to advance and meet the Buckeyes next week. The game will be Friday at 2 p.m. at Rose Stadium in Tyler. Gilmer will be the home team.
Buckeye Historian Joe Dodd provided some interesting stats on the Buckeyes going into the game against Caddo Mills. Gilmer’s schedule is the 24th toughest in Class 4A DII and Caddo Mills’ is the 72nd toughest.
Additionally, Gilmer’s 46.5 points per game is the 6th best in 4A DII and their 15.2 points allowed per game is the 12th best and the team’s 31.4 points differential per game is the 7th best in 4A DII. And since the Carthage game the Buckeyes haven’t allowed more than 15 points in six straight games. We appreciate the info, Joe!
The Buckeyes got the ball to begin the game and begin on their 35 after a fair catch. It took Brandon Tennison and the offense just 4 plays and 1:23 to get into the end zone for the first time. Tennison hit Parker Gilow on a 29-yard TD pass with 10:37 left in the quarter. Jose Hernandez added the PAT and Gilmer led 7-0.
The Foxes took over on their 31 after the ensuing kickoff and marched all the way down to the Gilmer 1 and the Black Flag held on 4th down at the 1 and Gilmer went back on offense for the second time.
The Bucks had another great drive going and after gaining 35 yards Cadon Tennison was hit hard and lost the ball at the Caddo Mills 44 and the Foxes recovered and took over at that point.
Jason Thomason led his charges on a 5-play TD drive that took 1:51 off the clock. The score came on a 42-yard pass from Thomason to Jaden Lenamond with 4:30 left in the first quarter. Jonah Rupe added the extra point and the game was tied 7-7.
Gilmer began on the Caddo Mills 46 after an out of bounds kick. Tennison led the offense into the end zone in just 40 seconds and 3 plays. The score came on a 20-yard run by Ashton Haynes. Hernandez added the point after and Gilmer led 14-7.
The Black Flag forced a three-and-out on the next Caddo Mills possession and after a punt Gilmer went back on offense at their 45. Just 2 plays into the possession Tennison was intercepted at the Foxes 48 by Bentley McDaniel. Gilmer was assessed a 15-yard personal foul and Caddo Mills began the drive at the Gilmer 37.
Thomason led his unit on another scoring drive, moving the 37 yards in 4 plays and 55 seconds. The score came on an 11-yard pass from Thomason to Lenamond for the second time with 1:21 left in the quarter. Rupe added the extra point and the game was tied 14-14.
Gilmer got the ball back at the Caddo Mills 49 after the ensuing kickoff and the drive ended in another touchdown. The dive was 4 plays and took just 1:17. The score came on a 12-yard pass from Tennison to Gilow with 4 seconds left in the opening frame. Hernandez connected on the point after and Gilmer led 21-14.
The Foxes began their next drive at their 15 and picked up 1 first down before Thomason fumbled the ball to Joseph Clark and Gilmer went back on offense at the CM 37.
After a 10-yard holding penalty against the Buckeyes the Foxes held and took over on downs on their 26. The Black Flag forced a three-and-out and Gilmer took back over on their 30.
Tennison led the offense the 70 yards into the end zone for another TD in 4:07 and 13 plays. The score came on a 14-yard pass from Tennison to Jay Rockwell with 4:56 left in the first half of play. Hernandez was true on the extra point kick and Gilmer led 28-14.
The Foxes began their next drive at their 20 and thanks to passes of 21 and 31 yards on the drive along with 2 penalties against Gilmer, they moved the 80 yards into the end zone in 8 plays and 2:12. The score came on a 7-yard TD pass from Thomason to Jett Salvador with 2:44 left in the half. Rupe added the extra point and the Gilmer lead was cut to 28-21.
Gilmer took over on their 46 after the kick and a 5-yard off sides penalty on Caddo Mills. Tennison led the offense into the end zone again in just 3 plays and 27 seconds. The score came on a 13-yard run by Haynes with 2:17 left in the half. Michael Colbert ran into the end zone out of the swinging gate for a 2-point conversion and Gilmer led 36-21.
The Foxes began their next possession on their 39 and the Black Flag forced another three-and-out and the Bucks went back on offense at their 20 with 1:50 left in the half
Tennison took just 4 plays and 37 seconds to lead his unit the 80 yards into the end zone once again with 1:13 left in the half. The score came on a 54-yard pass to Haynes who did a tremendous job of keeping his balance and getting into the end zone. Hernandez made the extra point kick and Gilmer led 43-21.
The Foxes got one last possession in the half and drove 54 yards in 5 plays and they were aided by three consecutive 15-yard penalties against the Buckeyes. The drive ended on the last play of the half when Rupe kicked a 39-yard field goal to make the score 43-24 Gilmer at the end of the half.
Caddo Mills got the ball to begin the second half and started the drive at their 14 after Hernandez kicked the ball away.
The Black Flag forced another three-and-out and after a punt Gilmer set up on their 47. Caddo Mills rose to the occasion and forced a three-and-out. After the first Gilmer punt by Cody Guidry the Foxes set up on their 44.
After a 43-yard pass on the first play down to the Gilmer 13 the Black Flag stiffened and forced a 37-yard Rupe field goal. The kick was blocked and Gilmer took over at their 20. On the second play of the possession Gilmer fumbled the ball away and the Foxes took over on the Gilmer 30.
Rohan Fluellen intercepted Thomason on the first play of the possession and following a 15-yard penalty on the Buckeyes they set up on their 14.
It took just 7 plays and 2:07 for Tennison to lead the offense into the end zone yet again. The score came on a 19-yard pass to Jack Rockwell with 5:08 left in the third quarter. Tennison passed to Gilow for the 2-point conversion and Gilmer led 51-24.
The ensuing kick was returned from the Caddo Mills 9 up to their 22. On the first play of the possession Thomason hit Lenamond for the third time for a 78-yard TD pass with 4:49 left in the third quarter. Rupe added the extra point and the Gilmer lead was cut to 51-31.
After getting the ball back on their 40 after a fair catch, Tennison led the offense on another TD drive. It took 6 plays and 2:08 for the Buckeyes to move the 60 yards to pay dirt. The score came on a 4-yard pass to Haynes with 2:41 left in the quarter. Hernandez added the extra point and Gilmer extended the lead 58-31.
The Foxes began their next drive at their 35 after a 10-yard return of the kickoff. The Black Flag managed another three-and-out and following a 23-yard punt Tennison and the offense returned to the field at the Gilmer 48.
The offense moved the ball down the field and it looked as though the Bucks would score again but a bad snap resulted in a 17-yard loss and Gilmer ended up punting the ball away on 4th down to the Caddo Mills 1.
The Foxes put together their best drive of the night, moving down to the Gilmer 4 and on 4th down Jay Rockwell intercepted the ball in the end zone and Gilmer took over on their 20 with 8:39 left in the game.
The Gilmer drive stalled at the Caddo Mills 5 and Hernandez nailed a 21-yard field goal with 4:11 left in the game moving the score to 61-31 in favor of the Buckeyes.
The Foxes began their next drive at their 31 and were moving toward another TD when Rohan Fluellen picked off Thomason at the Gilmer 27 and returned the ball for a pick-6 TD with 2:24 left in the game. Weston Mahan added the PAT and the Buckeyes led 68-31.
The Foxes got the ball back and ran out the clock and didn’t threaten to score.
When we talked with Coach Alan Metzel after the game he had an interesting comment about the tremendous number of penalties called against the Buckeyes.
“I’ve never seen that many penalties in a game ever in the history of football, but it is what it is and you’ve got to overcome it. I felt like we did that and we got a W and we get to play again next week. At halftime, it’s one of those things you have to say when things are being called a certain way we have to adjust. There’s certain things we can’t control, so we’ve got to play at a higher level, we’ve got to be more disciplined and be able to set that behind you and start playing right now. I think for the most part they were able to control their emotions and just come out and start playing.”
When asked his thoughts on the offense putting up 68 points on the Foxes, he replied, “I was really pleased. When you’ve got a senior quarterback in Brandon Tennison, tremendous job. I think he was 32 out of 42, just an amazing job on people, great job by the O-line giving him time and making catches, so really pleased that we were able to move the ball.”
Coach Metzel was also pleased with the Black Flag Defense.
“You have to be resilient. They’re a big play team and they got some big plays and when that happens you have to go back out and play the next play and we kept doing that. We were able to get some stops and come out on top. That’s what matters right now.”
We asked his thoughts on Caddo Mills quarterback Thomason and what he was able to accomplish in the game.
“Yeah, he’s very talented and they’ve got guys that catch the ball. I told you their scramble drill they do; they’re very good at it. Some of it they’re kind of living on the edge, but you know they hit some of those. You’ve got to give them credit. They made some plays that were pretty outstanding actually.”
We asked the coach if the game was the tightest called game he had ever seen and he responded, “No doubt. I think we had like 21 penalties on us and over 200 yards total and I’m not arguing that we didn’t earn some of them. I haven’t seen anything quite like that. That was a little over the top.”
We concluded by asking his thoughts on Rohan Fluellen’s 73-yard pick 6 interception that drove the final nail in the coffin.
“Rohan’s made plays all year long; offensively, defensively, special teams. You’ve got a guy with a lot of confidence back there and we said sometimes they (the Foxes) were making plays where they were living on the edge and that was one of them. They hung it up and Rohan went up and got it and takes it back and that just finished the game. It was a great finish I felt like.”
We want to thank the Army of Buckeyes for their attendance at the game and cheering the team on. Congratulations to the Bucks as we move on to Round 3 and the Regional Quarterfinals in Tyler next Friday.