By Elwyn Henderson
The Gilmer Buckeyes returned to Jeff Traylor Stadium Friday night for the second week in a row and met the Paris Wildcats in the 2022 Homecoming Game.
The game went as expected with Paris being down quite a bit from previous years and the Bucks dominated from start to finish, securing a blowout win and sending the Army of Buckeyes home very happy as they notched their third win in three games.
Paris got the ball first to begin the game after winning the coin toss. The Black Flag Defense welcomed quarterback Cortrevious Booker and the Wildcats with a three-and-out. Following a 50 yard punt by Preston Harper with no return Cadon Tennison and the Buckeye offense took the field for the first time.
Tennison led his unit the 89 yards into the end zone in 10 plays and 3:18. The score came on a 1-yard run by Ashton Haynes. The extra point attempt was no good when a run failed, but Gilmer led 6-0 with 10:02 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats managed one first down on their second possession thanks to a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Gilmer, but then the Black Flag shut the door, forcing another punt.
On the first play of the possession Tennison was intercepted by Jonathan Jones and the returned the pick to the Wildcat 46. It was another short possession as the Black Flag forced another three-an-out. After a 41-yard Preston Harper punt, Gilmer set up on their 29 for what would be their second score of the game.
Tennison led his charges the 71 yards in 2:50 over 10 plays. The score came with 11:55 left in the first half when Tennison hit Rohan Fluellen from 14 yards out. Gove added the extra point and the lead increased to 13-0.
A 15-yard personal foul penalty against Paris was assessed on the ensuing kickoff. The Buckeyes attempted an onside kick but Paris recovered on their 37. Once again, the Wildcats possession was short-lived as on the third play of the possession Booker fumbled the ball away to Chris Guillen after a14-yard loss and Gilmer went back on offense at the Paris 25.
It took just 1:12 and 3 plays for Gilmer to move the 25 yards into the end zone. The score came on a 5-yard run by Haynes with 9:13 left in the half. Govea nailed the extra point and Gilmer’s lead moved to 20-0.
After yet another three- and-out by the Black Flag, Tennison and the offense took over on their own 27 and moved 73 yards in 7 plays over 2:04. The drive ended when Tennison hit Cade Bowman on a 30-yard TD strike with 5:41 left in the half. Govea booted the extra point and the Buckeye lead extended to 27-0.
The Wildcats moved from their 34 all the way down to the Gilmer 2 aided by two 15-yard penalties, one of which was very questionable and brought boos down from the stands. After the tremendous goal line stand the offense came out for 4 plays and the half ended with Gilmer in control 27-0.
Paris kicked off to begin the third quarter. Brendan Webb returned the kick from his 26 for 39 yards down to the Paris 39 and Tennison and the offense hit the field once again.
It took just 40 seconds and 2 plays for the Bux to move the 55 yards into the end zone. Tennison tossed a 41-yard pass to Rohan Fluellen on the first play and Haynes tallied his third TD of the night with a 4-yard run into the end zone with 11:20 left in the third quarter. Govea added the point after and the blowout was on with Gilmer leading 34-0.
The Wildcats began their first possession of the second half at their 37 and on the first play the ball was fumbled and Seth Jordan recovered the loose pigskin at the Paris 33.
The Bucks managed one first down and then turned the ball over on downs at the Paris 11. The Black Flag forced another three-and-out and on 4th down the ball was snapped over the punter’s head and rolled out of the end zone giving Gilmer 2 more points with a safety and bringing the score to 36-0 with 1:56 left in the third quarter.
Following a 15-yard penalty after the safety, the Paris free kick was from the Wildcat 35. The pooch kick went to the Gilmer 33 and was returned up to the 46 where the offense hit the field for what would be another TD drive.
The possession consisted of 5 plays and 1:05 off the clock to move the 54 yards for the score. Will Henderson scored on a 19-yard run with 45 seconds left in the third stanza. Govea added the extra point and the Gilmer Homecoming crowd loved seeing the lead move to 43-0.
The ‘Cats began their next drive at their 35 and managed 2 first downs before the Black Flag shut the door at the Gilmer 34.
Jaden Edmond relieved Tennison at quarterback and the second team offense joined him for what would be the final Gilmer score of the game. Edmond drove the team the 66 yards to pay dirt in 10 plays that took 6:28 off the clock. The score came on a 3-yard TD run by Brayden Rash with 2:09 left in the game. Govea added the PAT and the Buckeyes led 50-0 and fans could sense a shutout on the horizon.
Unfortunately, the hope for a shutout ended when Paris returned the kick 78 yards into the end zone. The point after touchdown kick was good and that moved the score to 50-7.
Gilmer got the ball back and ran 4 plays and the game ended, moving Gilmer to 3-0 on the season and dropping Paris to 0-3 on the year.
We visited with a very proud Buckeye Head Coach Alan Metzel after the game and congratulated him on the big win and asked his thoughts about coming so close to a shutout in the game.
“We were hoping for that shutout. We lost a little gap integrity on our kick return. It gave some of the guys that hadn’t gotten in as much a chance to play. It gives us something to work on to help them come along, but I’m thrilled with the night.”
We asked if he was excited to see the second team drive the length of the field and get into the end zone.
“Oh, no doubt. They ran the offense; they were just as physical on defense. That stuff is huge when you get to seven, eight, nine, those weeks. Those guys are going to come up big at some point so that was very good for us.”
We asked about the maturity of the first team offense again for the second week in a row and Coach Metzel responded, “Yeah, I was pleased. We had a little thing here or there. There were a lot of things that we were able to work on tonight that are going to serve us well down the road; different play calls where we are broadening the offense with some of the guys that were in, and I thought that was good, you know, using Will Henderson and our inside receivers some; using him and Ashton on the field. You’ve got to get guys with that kind of speed out on the field. I thought that was good. I liked seeing that. (We did a) good job; we stepped forward and that’s what you want.”
We also asked his thoughts on the Black Flag Defense coming up with two huge turnovers in the game.
“Yes, they were all over. They’re a run team and we took away the run. That put a lot of pressure on them. I thought our guys flew to the ball. We were very physical. We did a great job. They like to try and get the edge with their formations and our guys just kept running them to the sidelines and gang tackling—really impressive job by the defense. Assignment-wise they were very disciplined and did a great job. They try and out-leverage you with extra players and our guys got to where they needed to be and we always have the one extra guy. Super job on their part; great preparation, great game plan and took away what they were trying to do.”
Coach shared his thoughts on the big Homecoming victory with us.
“It’s just great to see all those people, everybody in Gilmer enjoying the festivities, having fun, celebrating Buckeye football. We’ve got to love it!”
We concluded by asking Coach Metzel for any other thoughts he had on the game.
“I’m thankful for where we are. You think coming into this year, we’re like whew! We’ve got a gauntlet here and here we are three-fourths of the way through and we’re 3-0. We know next week Lindale will be a tough team to beat. They’re always well-coached. We’re excited about the opportunity.
We want to encourage all of the Army of Buckeyes to make the short drive to Lindale next Friday night as the Buckeyes take on the 2-1 Eagles in their final game before two open weeks prior to opening district play in Texarkana against the Pleasant Grove Hawks.