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Buckeyes advance with 25-7 bi-district win over Rusk

By Elwyn Henderson

The District 7-4A DII Champion Gilmer Buckeyes continued their perfect undefeated season Friday night when they moved past District 8-4A DII’s 4th place team, the Rusk Eagles in Bi-District action at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler by the score of 25-7.    

     Rusk was led at quarterback by Aiden McCown, son of former 18-year NFL veteran quarterback Josh McCown who is an assistant coach at Rusk and who is expected to become the Houston Texans head coach by those in the know following this season.

     The Buckeyes knew that with McCown at the controls the Eagles would have a good offense that could both run and pass the ball, but they also knew the Gilmer offense could blow past the Eagles defense which was the weakest link in their team.

     Rusk won the coin toss to open the game and elected to defer to begin the game.  The kick was returned from the Gilmer 13 to the Gilmer 24 where the Buckeye offense hit the field for the first time.

     After picking up one first down Chris Guillen punted the ball down to the Eagle 16 where Aiden McCown brought his charges out for their first possession of the night. The Black Flag forced a three-and-out and following an Alan Rojo punt, Gilmer set up on offense once again at their 38 for their second possession of the game.

     The Buckeyes picked up one first down before Guillen had to punt away once again.  Rusk went back to work at their 29.

     The Black Flag forced another three-and-out and following another Rojo punt Gilmer went back on offense at the Defense Rusk 47 after a 20-yard return by Rohan Fluellen.

     It took 9 plays and 3:43 for the Bucks to find the end zone for the first time.  The score came on a 2-yard run by Ashton Haynes.  Jose Govea hit the PAT and Gilmer led 7-0.

     The Buckeyes moved the ball 32 yards over 2:08 and ran 6 plays on their next possession before a 32-yard field goal by Govea was wide right with 10:02 left in the first half.

     The Black Flag forced another three-and-out and after a 34-yard Rojo punt Gilmer set up again on their 45.

     It took just 3 plays and 53 seconds for the Bucks to move the 55 yards into the end zone for their second score or the game.  The score came on a 7-yard run by Haynes with 8:15 left in the first half of play.  Following a low snap Govea’s extra point was kicked into the line and was not good, but Gilmer led 13-0.

     The next Eagle possession resulted in another three-and-out and after a 14-yard punt Gilmer set up on the Rusk 43.

     The Buckeyes took 4 plays to move the 43 yards for their third score of the game.  The TD came on a 25-yard pass from Cadon Tennison.  A bad snap resulted in the extra point being no good, but the Gilmer lead advanced to 19-0.

     The two teams exchanged punts and Gilmer went back on offense at their 31.  On the first play of the possession Tennison was intercepted at the Buckeye 30 by Spencer Barnett and he returned the ball into the end zone for a pick-6 with 54 seconds left in the first half.  The extra point by Rojo was good and Rusk cut the lead to 19-7.

     The Bucks set up on the 50 after a 15-yard personal foul after the punt.  On the first play of the possession Gilmer was penalized 5 yards for a false start and on the next play Cody Smallwood intercepted Fluellen at the Rusk 10.  McCown came in and took a knee for a 2-yard loss and the half ended with Gilmer leading 19-7.

     Rusk received the second half kickoff from Govea.  Rusk managed one first down and then punted away on the next series.  It was a quick three-and-out and Rusk took over again on their 31.

    The Eagles ran 10 plays before Seth Jordan recovered a McCown fumble at the Gilmer 37.  Unfortunately it was a three-and-out and Gilmer had to punt back to the Eagles.  The teams exchanged punts and then Rohan Fluellen grabbed his second interception of the game at the Rusk 28 and returned the pick to the Eagle 15.

     It took just one play for the Buckeyes to get into the end zone.  The score came on a 15-yard run by Haynes, his third TD of the game, with 9:18 left in the game. A bad snap resulted in yet another missed extra point, but the Gilmer lead advanced to 25-7.  

     Rusk managed one first down on their next possession before putting back to Gilmer, but after taking over on their 17 it was a quick three-and-out and following a short punt the Eagles got the ball back on the Gilmer 35.  On the second play of the possession Omero Orona intercepted McCown at the Gilmer 17 and the Buckeyes took over with 3:43 left in the game.

     It was another three-and-out for the Buckeye offense and Rusk got one more possession with 2:13 left in the game.  They managed 8 yards on the possession and the ball turned over on downs at the Gilmer 27 following an incomplete pass on 4th down.

     The Buckeye offense ran 2 plays in victory formation and the game ended with Gilmer advancing to the Area round against Gainesville, a 35-24 winner over Sunnyvale.  The game will be played at Mesquite Memorial Stadium next Friday night, November 18th at 7 PM.

     We asked Coach Alan Metzel his thoughts on the game after the win.

     “Well, sometimes they’re not as pretty as you’d like.  It is what it is.  We started out and had some things going and we just started misfiring in different areas, but you know that happens sometimes.  The key is can you overcome it when you are not at your best and these guys had a lot of resilience tonight.  They were able to push through.  There were some times that we made some poor decisions or looked the wrong way or whatever the case may be, but we had to go make the next play and that’s what we teach.  We scored 32 tonight it’s just that 7 were for them.”

     We pointed out that the Black Flag was at near perfection in the game as they did not give up a score during the game.

     “They were just outstanding and their demeanor was fantastic.  They knew we were struggling at times and so they were getting us going.  They kept giving us the ball; they kept getting us stops.  You had a terrific quarterback out there with great athletes, so to just be able to have that kind of ability to keep going out, that’s really impressive and it’s a credit to all the guys on defense.”

     We asked Coach Metzel that due to the wind swirling at Rose Stadium did he agree that the wind had a LOT to do with the Buckeyes’ performance in the game. 

     “It did, it did, and it’s one of those things we talk to our players and say ‘okay, there are things that are understandable but that doesn’t make them acceptable.’  There were times tonight where we allowed the weather to affect us when if you’re going to be a player you don’t allow that to happen.  We dropped some passes at critical times early especially that could have been long touchdowns.  We left some stuff on the field which was frustrating.  Again, I’m grateful we get to play another week.  That gives us a chance to go improve and get to another level.”

     We asked if it did not give him and the coaches a great opportunity to tune the players in when they watched the film of the game.

     “Oh, yeah; I had several players come over and say ‘coach, we got it.  Monday morning we’re ready to go.’  They know.  These guys, they’ve been in a lot of games and they know that wasn’t up to the standard that we would like in areas.  We’re going to get those things fixed.”

     We also asked what it meant getting Rohan Fluellen back for the game, especially considering his two interceptions.

     “Oh, it was just awesome!  He gives you a confidence level when he’s on the field, offensively or defensively.  Just having him back out there was a big boost to us.”

     We knew Buckeye fans were going to be asking about Tennison’s injury so we asked the coach his early thoughts about it.

     “I don’t know the extent right now.  He was able to go back in and then at halftime it kind of tightened up.  We’ll start hitting the treatment tomorrow morning and hopefully, it will be a sprain and we’ll be able to work through it.”

     We all know the weather was less than comfortable, but we had a very poor attendance at the game.  Please get behind the team and make the trip to Mesquite next Friday!


It came to my attention last night that somehow I managed to delete the 48-yard touchdown reception that Cade Bowman caught from Cadon Tennison with 8:45 left in the first half of play in the Pittsburg game.  Apparently, my cursor on my computer moved up and that sentence was deleted from the story and I failed to catch it.  I always want to make sure the players who make big plays and score touchdowns are lauded for their work on the field.

To Cade and his mom Jennifer Bowman and his dad Brian Bowman I offer my sincere apologies.  I feel terrible that credit for the score was omitted.  Please forgive me for the oversight.  It most definitely was not intended.





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