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Gilmer 59, Lindale 56

BRAYDEN PATE hits a 26-yard field goal to give the Buckeyes a 59-56 victory over the Lindale Eagles here Friday night.

GILMER HEAD COACH ALAN METZEL discusses the 59-56 win over Lindale with his team.


   By Elwyn Henderson

    The Gilmer Buckeyes returned home to the friendly confines of Jeff Traylor Stadium Friday night and bested the Lindale Eagles by the score of 59-56 in a nail-biter that wasn’t decided until an untimed down at the end of the game to even their season record to 2-2.  

     The 7 new defensive starters on the 2023 Buckeye team are growing and getting better each week and showed improvement again Friday night when they absolutely had to do so against a very good Lindale offense that had a huge offensive line.  

     Despite the struggles the defense has faced at times this year, they have continued to grind it out and work every day to get better.  By the time district play begins the Bucks will be ready to roll and cruise to the playoffs as they do every year.  There was obvious improvement against Lindale and expect more of the same next week in the final non-district game in Gilmer against Prosper Walnut Grove.

     To begin the game against Lindale, the Eagles won the coin toss and elected to receive.     Brayden Pate kicked the ball away from his 40 and the kick was fair caught at the 25.

   The Black Flag Defense was swarming the Eagles and forced a three-and-out and Cadon Tennison brought the Buckeye offense on the field at the Gilmer 35 for the first offensive possession by the Bucks.  The Eagles defense returned the favor and forced a three-and-out of their own, and following a Pate punt they set up shop on their 46.

     The Black Flag held on a 4th down and the ball turned over at the Gilmer 29.  On the first play of the possession Tennison was intercepted at the Gilmer 39 by Jackson Parker the Lindale went back on offense.

     Thurmon led his unit down the field and the drive ended when Wyatt Parker ran into the end zone from 6 yards out with 2:51 left in the opening frame.  Seth Baggett hit the PAT and Lindale led 7-0.  The drive was 8 plays, 39 yards and took 2:58 off the clock.

     Baggett’s ensuing kick was returned to the Gilmer 26 and Tennison and the offense hit the field once again.

     Tennison ran for 28 yards on the first play and Will Henderson ran into the end zone on the next play but the Buckeyes were called for holding, moving the ball back to the Gilmer 38.  On third down Will Henderson ran 52 yards into the end zone with 1:55 left in the first quarter.  Pate drilled the extra point and the game was tied, 7-7.  The drive was 4 plays, 74, yards and took just 56 seconds.

     Pate’s kickoff following the score went out of bounds and following a penalty mark off Lindale went back to work at their 30.  The Black Flag forced another three-and-out and following a punt the Buckeyes were back in business at their 37.

     On the first play of the possession Tennison gained 22 yards on a rush and then the Eagles defense forced a 3rd and 12 from their 43.  Tennison connected with Geramiah Noble for a 43-yard TD pass with 11:46 left in the first half.  Pate added the extra point and Gilmer led 14-7.  The drive was 4 plays, 67 yards and took just 35 seconds.

     After a kickoff out of bounds the visitors set up on their 35 trailing for the first time in the game.

     It took just 1:40 and 5 plays for the Eagles to move the 65 yards to pay dirt.  The score came on a 57-yard TD run by quarterback Thurman with 10:06 left in the half.  The extra point was good and the game was tied again at 14-all.

     Gilmer started their next possession at their 30.  Tennison had another big run inside Lindale territory but there was a holding call that pushed the ball back to the Gilmer 23.  Tennison hit Noble for a big first down.  On the next series a 4th down pass went to Ta’Erik Tate down to the Lindale 6.  Will Henderson found the end zone from 5 yards out with 6:12 left in the first half, capping the 10-play, 70-yard drive in 3:54.  Pate nailed the extra point and Gilmer went back up 21-14.

     After a nice return of the next Pate kickoff the Eagles set up on their 30.  Thurman led his team down the field for another TD on the possession.  The score came on a 3-yard run by Thurman with 2:17 left in the half.  Baggett’s extra point was good and we were tied again at 21-21.  

     A beautiful return by Tate set the Bucks up on their 40 and it took just 3 plays and 31 seconds for Gilmer to find the end zone again.  The score was set up by a 43-yard pass from Tennison to Tate and the score came on an 18-yard pass from Tennison to Will Henderson with 1:36 left in the half.  Pate split the uprights and went up 28-21.   

     Lindale returned the kickoff to their 367 for their next possession.  The Eagles moved the 63 yards into the end zone in just 59 seconds and took 7 plays to get in.  The score came on a 3-yard TD pass from Thurman to Parker with 37 seconds left in the half.  Baggett made the extra point kick and we were tied at 28.

     Gilmer began their final drive of the half at their 32.  Gilmer moved inside the 20 with 2 seconds left and had a first down and Coach Alan Metzel rushed to call time out but an inexcusable, horrific decision by the referee ended the first half with the score tied at 28.

     Atavian Ector made a nice return on the second half kickoff, returning the ball from his 16 to the 48 and Tennison brought the offense back on the field.

     It took just 1:16 for the Gilmer to get the 52 yards into the end zone for another TD.  The drive took 4 plays and was set up by a Tennison to Brendan Webb 30-yard pass.  The score came on a 19-yard run by Henderson with 10:44 left in the third quarter.  Pate was true on the extra point and Gilmer led 35-28.

     The Buckeyes tried to surprise the Eagles with an onside kick but Lindale recovered the ball on their 44.

     Thurman led his team to another TD on the possession.  The score came on a 1-yard Thurman run with 4:52 left in third quarter.  The drive was 12 plays and 56 yards and took 5:52 off the third quarter clock.  Baggett was successful on the extra point and we were tied again at 35-35.

     Baggett’s next kickoff went out of the end zone and Gilmer set up on their 25.  After picking up one first down the Bucks fumbled the ball away and Lindale recovered the pigskin at the Gilmer 34.

     It didn’t take but 2:34 and 5 plays for the Eagles to move the 34 yards and take their second lead of the game.  The score came on a 7-yard pass to Cason Plunkett with 1:37 left in the third quarter.  Baggett hit the point after and Lindale had a 42-35 lead.

     Ector returned and actually the kick to midfield and Gilmer was in good shape to begin their next drive.

     Tennison led the team to three first downs and he ran into the end zone for a TD, but for the third time in the game, a Gilmer TD was called back for holding.  That resulted in the Buckeyes ultimately facing a 4th and 22 from the Lindale 26.  A pass intended for Webb at the 5 fell incomplete and Lindale took over on downs at their 25 leading by 7 points.

     Thurman led his charges into the end zone again for the two score lead.  The drive was 7 plays, 75 yards and took 4:06.  The score came on a 36-yard run by Thurman with 7:26 left in the game.  Baggett hit the extra point and Gilmer was down 49-35.

     After a kick into the end zone the Buckeyes took over on their 25 knowing time was running down and they needed a quick score to have a chance to come back and they did just that, moving the 75 yards into the end zone in just 4 plays and 39 seconds.  The score came on a 13-yard pass to Tate with 6:47 left in the contest.

     Gilmer opted to kick onside and Pate blasted a beautiful high kick and Henderson caught the ball in the air for the Buckeyes took over at the Lindale 40.

     The offense cashed in and got into the end zone in 4 plays in just 25 seconds.  The score came on a 1-yard run Daydrion Jimmerson with 6:20 left in the game.  Pate was true on the extra point and the score was tied again at 49-49.

     Gilmer gave up one first down and then took over on downs at their 46 with 2:33 left in the game.  It took just 1 play for the Buckeyes to take the lead back.  Tennison hit Tate for the 54-yard bomb with 2:24 left in the game.  Pate’s kick was good and Gilmer led 56-49, a 21-point turnaround in 5:12!

     Lindale took over at their 28 on their final drive of the night.  The Black was fired up and forced a 4th down.  Thurman completed a 33-yard pass to Chad Ward.  He was hit and fumbled the ball away and Webb recovered and Gilmer took over on their 39.

     On the second play of the possession the Bucks fumbled and the Eagles recovered on the Gilmer 45.

     Thurman led his team into the end zone with 34 seconds left.  The score came on a 4-yard TD run by Plunkett.  The score came on a 4-yard run by Parker, capping off a 3 play, 45-yard drive.  Baggett hit the extra point and the score moved to 56-56.

     Tate returned the next kick up to the Gilmer 45.  Tennison led the offense 41 yards in 4 plays down to the Lindale 14 with 4 seconds left.  Gilmer called a timeout and Pate attempted a 31-yard field goal on the last play of the game.  Lindale used their final timeout to try to ice Pate.  The kick was no good but Lindale was called for running into the kicker, giving Pate another chance.  The 26-yard field goal was good on an untimed down and Gilmer walked away with the hard-earned 59-56 win to move to 2-2 on the year. 

     When we visited with a jubilant but exhausted Coach Alan Metzel after the big win we asked if he agreed the game was draining.

     “I’m telling you, it’s a good thing I’ve been working out all summer because they’d have had to have carried me off tonight.  Yeah, that was pretty intense.”

     We asked the coach if he agreed the turning point of the game was when Ta’Erik Tate caught the pop-up onside kick.

     “Oh, no doubt; what a great kick when they’re lined up to stop the thing, to catch the ball.  You couldn’t have put that ball any better if you handed it to us.  (It was an) amazing kick by Braden Pate.  Josh Riley does a great job getting our Bounty Hunters, which is our kickoff running group ready.  We almost got one in the first half.   Great execution there, that was such a huge momentum turn.  We go score.  We had an amazing amount of plays made by both teams, quite frankly!  A ton of credit to Chris Cochran and Lindale; we said it Wednesday, they’re a program.  They were not going to go away and they did not.  You have to go get it and that’s what we did tonight.  I’m so proud of the resiliency of these guys.  Yeah, we’re young and we make dumb decisions and sometimes not great plays, but they just keep playing, and that’s pretty special.”

     We also asked his thoughts about whether this team might be better than last year’s even though the Buckeyes were 4-0 at this point in the 2022 season.

     “Actually, I’m not comparing.  I’m not trying to be critical of that statement.  What I see right now, and this is what I know you’re saying, this team is headed somewhere.  You can feel it, you can sense it, you can see it.  Our consistency isn’t there yet, but it’s heading there.  You’ve got guys that are having to fill big shoes and we’ve got playmakers.  When we can start getting a few more stops, when we can be a little more consistent on offense and keep from turning the ball over and get rid of some of these holding penalties, right, wrong, whatever, clean some of that up, you’ve got a chance to have a team that can really do some damage this year.”

     Additionally, we asked the coach what the victory did for the team knowing the youth we have.

     “It catapults us forward.  It’s a springboard into next week’s practice.  I can just feel the energy coming Monday, you know.  It’s one of those things you can look back later and go ‘man, that Lindale game.’  Think about 2020.  We’re down 28-7 and come back and win the game and we run it all the way to Jerry’s World.  It was one of those things that was ‘oh yeah, we can do this.’  I think it’s going to be a watershed moment as we look back on the season.”

     We concluded our visit by asking Coach Metzel his final thoughts on the game, and he replied, “Now that we’ve won, that was one of the wildest and maybe most emotional wins.  I think back since I’ve been the head coach, beating PG here for district, that was pretty crazy and of course we hadn’t won district in a while.  This was up there.  It’s up there in some of those type wins because of the emotional swings I would say.  The fans were amazing.  I mean it was so loud we could barely hear on our headsets and that’s just awesome.  I love being a Gilmer Buckeye!”

     The Bucks close out their non-district schedule and conclude Phase 1 of the season next Friday night at Jeff Traylor Stadium when they take on first year school Prosper Walnut Grove in the 2023 Homecoming Game.  Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM.  Be sure to be there and support the Buckeyes.











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