— Andy Jordan (@andyjordan1976) October 29, 2022
By Elwyn Henderson
After an almost 45-minute lightning delay Friday night at Jeff Traylor Stadium in Gilmer, the District 7-4A DII game between the Spring Hill Panthers and the Buckeyes finally kicked off.
The Panthers won the coin toss and elected to receive to begin the game. Jose Govea kicked away to the Spring Hill 30 where the visitors took over for their first possession of the game.
The Panthers picked up one first down in 2 plays and on the next play Ke’Vion Brinkley intercepted Zane Mason at the 41 and returned the ball down to the 33 and Gilmer went back on offense.
After picking up one first down, the Bucks turned the ball over via an interception and SH went back on offense at their 14.
The Black Flag Defense forced a three-and-out and following a Rhodes punt the Buckeyes were back in business at the Spring Hill 36.
The ball turned over on downs at the Panther 36 after the Buckeyes fell just inches short on a 4th and 5.
After picking up one first down, on 2nd down of the second series, after and 8-yard loss and a fumble, Geramiah Noble recovered for Gilmer and Cadon Tennison went back to the field.
Following an incomplete pass on the first play, Will Henderson rushed around right end 47 yards into the end zone with 3:57 left in the first quarter. Jose Govea added the PAT and Gilmer led 7-0. The drive was 2 plays, 47 yards and took only 18 seconds off the clock.
The ensuing kickoff by Govea was fair caught at the SH 22 and moved up to the 25.
The Panthers picked up one first down and were coming to the line of scrimmage for a 3rd and long when the officials huddled together and called a delay due to close up lightning at 8:36 PM, 26 minutes after kickoff.
The teams returned to the field and began play again 41 minutes later at 9:17 PM. The Black Flag forced a punt and Gilmer set up on offense at their 34 with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.
Tennison led the offense on a 5-play drive over 1:12 to cover the 66 yards. The score came on a 36-yard TD run by Will Henderson with 11:17 left in the first half. Govea added the extra point and the lead increased to 14-0.
After Govea’s kickoff and a fair catch the Panthers took over on their 32. It was a quick three-and-out by the Black Flag and after a Rhodes punt and a 23-yard return followed by a 15-yard personal foul against Spring Hill, Gilmer set up on the SH 40.
It took just 6 plays and 1:40 for the Buckeyes to move the 40 yards and find the end for the third time. The score came on a 25-yard run by Ke’Vion Brinkley with 7:32 left in the half. Govea was true on the point after and Gilmer upped the lead to 21-0.
The Black Flag forced another three-and-out and after a 10-yard penalty for an illegal block in the back, the Bucks set up on their 32.
Tennison led the team on a 68-yard drive in 8 plays over 2:52. The drive ended with a 33-yard TD run by Ashton Haynes with 2:59 left in the half. Govea nailed the extra point and the Buckeyes had the blowout started, leading 28-0.
After a fair catch on the kickoff the Panthers began their next possession at their 32. They managed 2 first downs before Tyson Wilson picked off Mason on 3rd down on the next series at the Buckeye 5. He returned the pick 43 yards up to the Gilmer 48 and Tennison brought the offense back out with 40 seconds left in the half.
Tennison ran for 19 yards on the first play of the possession and then hit Noble on a 33-yard scoring strike with 20 seconds left in the half. The 2-play drive covering 52 yards took just 20 seconds. Govea’s PAT hit the left upright and bounced out so the extra point was no good, but the game officially became a laugher with the score sitting at 34-0.
The Panthers got the ball back at their 33 after yet another fair catch, ran 1 play and the half came to a close.
The Buckeyes received the second half kickoff and Haynes was hit and the wet ball popped out and the Panthers recovered at the Buckeye 39 and went on offense from that point.
It was a 4-play possession and after an incompletion on fourth down Tennsion brought the offense back on the field at the 21 following a 15-yard penalty on Gilmer for an unsportsmanlike penalty call.
The penalty did not affect Gilmer at all. On the first play of the possession Haynes ran 79 yards into the end zone for another TD and the game was officially a laugher. The extra point was no good after the wet ball went through the holder’s hands, but Gilmer was up 40-0.
The visitors went back on offense after a fair catch at the Panther 26.
They managed one first down and on the third play of the next series Brendan Webb intercepted Mason at the Gilmer 40 and he returned the theft to the Panther 19.
This time it took just 2 plays for the Bucks to get into the end zone again. After an 8-yard loss on the first play, Tennison ran into the end zone from 27 yards out with 5:03 left in the third quarter. Govea’s extra point kick was good and the Gilmer lead advanced to 47-0.
The Black Flag forced another three-and-out and the punt by Rhodes was blocked by Omero Orona and Gilmer took over on the Panther 27.
The Buckeyes took 6 plays to move the 27 yards into the end zone. The score came on a 3-yard run by Brinkley. Orona came in and kicked the extra point and the Buckeyes led 54-0.
The Panthers got the ball back again at their 31 after the ensuing kickoff and they turned the ball over on downs after 4 plays.
The officials began running a continual clock when Gilmer went back on offense. They kept the ball for 10 plays and picked up three first downs before turning the ball back to Spring Hill. They ran 1 play and the game ended. With the 54-0 win the Buckeyes moved to 8-0 on the season and 4-0 in district play. The loss dropped the Panthers to 1-8 and 0-4 in district play.
We asked Coach Alan Metzel in his office in the Field House after the game his thoughts on the shutout win under terrible conditions.
“You touched on the shutout; that’s a big deal for our school here. We’ve always had the Black Flag. Anytime you have a shutout everyone in this building celebrates and I think that’s a great way to focus your team. A lot of times the offense gets some of the glory. They do a lot of the grunt work so we celebrate it as a staff, as a team. We ALL wear the Black Flag shirts, that kind of thing. They really did a great job tonight and the orange uniforms haven’t been scored on yet, so there you go!”
I had told the coach a couple of weeks ago that I’d like for the Buckeyes to win the coin toss in round 3 when we will most certainly play Carthage so we could wear the orange uniforms again, so I had to ask him if that might be a possibility.
“Oh, I like it. We’ve got a few things to do between now and then, but we’ll see how it all plays out.”
We pointed out that even though things started off a little bit slow that once the team got going they were firing on all cylinders on offense, defense and special teams, and Coach Metzel agreed.
“Yeah, we’re a very regimented schedule team and we had to overcome that. That’s just part of it. We kind of sputtered there a little bit at the first but once Will (Henderson) made that play, the long run, and then Ashton (Haynes) had another big play, it got the juices flowing and we just relaxed and started playing again. I was pleased once we got that momentum rolling.”
We also wanted to know his thoughts on the lights out play by the Black Flag and asked if he agreed that he couldn’t have asked for more.
“You really couldn’t, and on Omero (Orona), that wasn’t even a called blocked punt, he just beat his guy and made the play. It was great effort on his part; great angle, technique on how to take it off the foot, all of that, it shows they trusted their training and they went out and did it on the field and that’s a fun thing to watch.
“We are headed where we want to be and we want to take care of business. We will focus on Pittsburg just like we would anytime. Pittsburg notoriously plays us well throughout the years and I know that Coach Abron’s teams get better as the year goes on. That’s a characteristic of his and I think we’ve seen that this year. They’ll come into the game feeling pretty good about where they are and that they’re making strides. We know it will be a physical game. That’s the style that they play, but we’re looking forward to that challenge.”
We asked the coach for any other thoughts he had on the game.
“Like you say, with it being Senior Night and so forth, it was frustrating with all the holdups. I want to say this about our town though. We had a zillion people in this field house. We brought them in so they could take pictures with their kids. They were cramped in here, it was hot. We didn’t know how long (the delay would be). We’d go ‘oh, we got another 20 minutes’, then ‘oh, we got another 30 minutes’, and the people in this building were amazing. My hat is off to the parents here and how they handled all of that. They kept a great attitude. It would have been so easy to get frustrated and angry and all that and they kept it nice, they kept it good. They visited with each other, they enjoyed their kids. It was unique. So here you are in the middle of adversity and your town shines. That was pretty special.”
We concluded our visit by asking Coach Metzel his thoughts on the great turnaround the Lady Buckeye Volleyball team made, finishing 2nd in district play by winning a playoff match against Carthage in Spring Hill three hours before scheduled kickoff of the football game after losing the first two games and winning the final three.
“I’m so thrilled to watch a group come around, come into its own like they have. They graduate a number of people last year. Coach Seahorn stepped into the head spot and it took them a little while to find their identity, but once they did I mean they have been on a tear. I couldn’t be more proud of them and now here they are. They went from fourth place a couple of weeks ago all the way to second now. I’m so excited for them. They have so much momentum going and we’re proud of them, thrilled for them. They’re going to have playoffs on Monday night, band is going to All-State Tuesday and we’ve got Cross-Country going to State, the girls, so we’ve got a lot of good things going on in this town.”