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Gilmer 43, Paris 40

By Elwyn Henderson

The Gilmer Buckeyes made their second road trip in a row Friday night as they traveled 80 miles north on Highway 271 to take on the Paris Wildcats. The Buckeyes went into the contest at an unfamiliar 0-2 on the season, but with a lot of confidence in what this season has moving forward. The Wildcats entered the game at 1-1 but with a lot of questions on defense.

When the game ended midway through the fourth quarter because of persistent lightning in the area, the Army of Buckeyes celebrated a 43-40 win over the host Wildcats.

Paris won the coin toss to begin the game and elected to defer to begin the game. Paul Torres kicked the ball away to get the action going. The kickoff traveled down to the Gilmer 18 and was returned to the Gilmer 29 by Brendan Webb.

Cadon Tennison led the offense on a successful 11l-play, 71-yard TD drive in 3:39. The score came on an 11-yard pass from Tennison to Webb with 8:21 left in the first quarter. Brayden Pate added the PAT and Gilmer took an early 7-0 lead.

Pate’s kick after the score was returned to the Paris 25. Trevin Hohenberger, the head coach’s son brought the Wildcats on the field for their first offensive possession at that point.

Hohenberger led his charges down the field on a 13-play, 75-yard TD drive in 4:07 that ended with a 6-yard run by Marcav’us Washington with 4:14 left in the first quarter. Eliez Castillo blocked Torres’ PAT attempt and Gilmer maintained the lead at 7-6.

Torres ensuing kick went out of the end zone for a touchback and Tennison and company hit the field at their 25 for their second possession.

It was a quick three-and-out forced by the Wildcat defense and Pate came in and booted the ball down to the Paris 30.

Hohenberger led his offense on a 3-play, 70-yard drive that culminated with a 6-yard Tadrick Dawson run with 38 seconds left in the opening frame. The drive was aided by a 15-yard face mask penalty against Gilmer and 53-yard pass from Hohenberger to Dycurioun Douglas. The extra point by Torres was good and Paris took a 13-7 lead.

The Buckeye offense struggled and then managed to pick up a first down and then on the second play of the next series Tennison threw an interception to Corday Cooper that was returned 63 yards for a pick-6 with 10:59 left in the first half. The extra point by Torres was good and Paris led 20-7.

After a 15-yard penalty against Gilmer Paris kicked off from the Gilmer 45 onside and Gilmer managed to recover at their 32 and the offense came back on the field desperately needing to find a way to score and they did just that, moving the 68 yards in 15 plays that took 6:11. The score came on an 8-yard run by Will Henderson with 4:48 left in the first half. Pate was true on the extra point and Gilmer was within 6 at 20-14.

The ensuing kick was returned to the Wildcat 46 and Hohenberger led is unit back on the field. The Wildcats found the end zone again with 1:10 left in the first half. The score came on a 13-yard TD pass from Hohenberger to Douglas. The drive was 8 plays, 54 yards and took 3:38. Castillo again blocked the extra point attempt and Aron Bell returned the ball into the Paris end zone for two points for the Buckeyes, making the score 26-16.

Gilmer returned the next kickoff from their 14 up to the Paris 38 and a 15-yard penalty against the home team put the ball on the Paris side of the field at the 48.

Tennison led his teammates down the field and as time expired on a fourth down play from the Wildcat 25 he tossed a TD pass to Geramiah Noble. Pate made the extra point and the Bucks were back in the game, trailing 26-23. The 75-yard drive took eight plays and the final 1:10 of the first half.

Pate kicked away to Paris to begin the third quarter. The kick traveled down to the Wildcat 2 and was returned to the 25 as the second half began. The Black Flag forced a three-and-out and following an 11-yard punt Gilmer was beginning in great field position.

It took just 1:36 and five plays for the Bux to move the 34 yards into the end zone and take the lead again. The score came on a 16-yard run by Henderson with exactly 8 minutes left in the third quarter. The PAT was no good by Pate, but Gilmer led 29-26.

The Pate kickoff was returned to the Paris 25 and the Wildcats were on the move again. They drove down the field but Gilmer forced a punt that went out of the end zone and the Bucks were back in business at their 20.

The offense was clicking on all cylinders once again, as the Buckeyes moved the 80 yards into the end zone in nine plays over 3:20. A key play in the drive was a Tennison to Noble 40-yard pass and the score came on a 4-yard pass from Tennison to Webb with 1:06 left in the third quarter. Pate’s extra point was good and Gilmer led 36-26.

After a nice return the Wildcats took over on their 41. Hohenberger quickly led his offense down the field and the third quarter ended after three plays with the home team set up with a 1st and 10 on the Gilmer 13 to begin the final quarter.

Paris got into the end zone 2 plays into the final quarter on a 3-yard TD run by Chris Houston with 10:41 left in the game. The Torres extra point was good and the Gilmer lead dropped to 36-33.

The following Torres kickoff was taken at the Gilmer 11 by Ector and returned the ball up to the Gilmer 33 and Tennison brought the Buckeye offense back on the field.

It took just six plays and 2:21 for the Bucks to get into the end zone again after moving the 67 yards. The score came on a 4-yard TD run by Alec Sims with 8:19 left in the game. The extra point kick by Pate was good and Gilmer jumped back out to a 10-point lead, 43-33.

Paris returned the next kick up to their 40 and went back on the offensive. It took just two plays for the Wildcats to find the end zone again. The score came on a 65-yard TD run by quarterback Hohenberger with 7:52 left in the game. Torres nailed the extra point and Paris was back within three points again, 43-40. The drive took just 27 seconds.

Torres kicked the ball away again and Gilmer set up on their 25 after the ball went into the end zone. After picking up one first down the Wildcats defense forced a Pate punt that went right into the arms of a Wildcat special teams player who returned the ball from the Gilmer 35 down to the 25. Paris was in position to potentially take the lead, but at that very moment the lightning sensor in the stadium flashed indicating there was lightning within two miles of the stadium and the officials sent the teams to their respective locker rooms and the fans from both sides to the parking lot for a 30-minute weather delay at 10:06 p.m.. After a second lightning delay a decision was made to reassess at 11:10 p.m. and make a decision what to do. After checking the radar it was obvious that a severe storm was headed straight into Paris and the decision was made to call the game, and Gilmer was credited with a 43-40 victory with no plans to play the final 6:07 left on the clock in regulation.

We talked with Buckeye Head Coach Alan Metzel as we were driving home and he was riding home on the bus with the team to get his thoughts about the crazy night. We began by asking him his thoughts about how the team faced adversity over and over during the game but bounced back from being 10 points down to 10 points ahead in the game.

“It was like a night of adversity. There were all sorts of things that we had to overcome. To me, the play right before the half (when the Buckeyes got the 25-yard TD as time expired on fourth down) just epitomized the fight to get ahead, to come back and say ‘no, we’re not going down.’ To me, those are things you can build on. Those are things that are year-changing. I’m really pleased at how our guys just pushed and overcame and weren’t going to let the last play affect the next play.”

We also asked if Paris looked a whole lot better than we thought they were going to be, and Coach Metzel replied, “I would agree in that they played about as good as they could play. They really brought their A game and their quarterback, the coach’s son, he was so gritty. He just made so many plays when we had him on the ropes multiple times and then he’d get them out of the bind. Hats off to them and hats off to Coach Hohenberger for having his guys ready and really playing well.”

We mentioned that we knew he didn’t want the game to end like it did and that he probably had a bad taste in his mouth from the last play in the game, and he said, “Yeah, it was bizarre.”

We then asked when he knew the game would be called due to the weather and not be completed on Saturday.

“Well, we talked at 10:25 (after the first delay). Coach Hohenberger brought me in with their AD, and all the officials and they showed me the radar and there was a huge amount of lightning coming from Hugo (Okla.). It was pretty obvious that this wasn’t going to clear up in just 15 minutes, so what we decided was ok, let’s wait until the next 30 minutes ended about 11:10 or 11:15 if was resetting then it would be called. If that were to blow through, we said we’d set a time and go back out and play.”

We wanted to know if he was surprised that the game wasn’t rescheduled and Gilmer got the win since they were ahead, and the coach responded, “Well, no because Coach Hohenberger said with it being a non-district game he didn’t want to try to come back and play for six minutes tomorrow because it would mess up trying to prepare for next week and I said ok.”

We asked if even though he would have rather had the game finish if he had a good taste in his mouth that the Buckeyes got the win.

“Well, it does. You know there’s games that we played the whole regulation game and I didn’t feel good about it either. I’ll still take that W! Like I said, it was a bizarre night; it ended in a weird way. People can say they would have gone on and scored. First of all, you don’t know that and if they did, they don’t know that we wouldn’t just come right back and score too. None of that happened. We were ahead when it stopped and it is what it is, so there we go.”

We concluded by asking if he had any additional nights on the strange night.

“I think the focus was good. Of course, I’ll go back and look at film and see things to improve and stuff like that. I think the win really tonight is to overcome so many things that didn’t go our way. That’s going to mature your team and hopefully, we’ll build on that and become a better team for next Friday.”

The Buckeyes will return to Jeff Traylor Stadium Friday night to take on the Lindale Eag

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