Onto round 4 pic.twitter.com/myAmcvj1r9
— Kamryn.brown1 5 (@itznotkam_) November 25, 2023
By Elwyn Henderson
The Gilmer Buckeyes defeated the Aubrey Chaparrals by the score of 34-21 at Memorial Stadium’s Ernest Hawkins Field on the campus of Texas A&M-Commerce Friday afternoon in the Class 4A DII Regional Semi-Final game.
To begin the game Gilmer won the coin toss and elected to receive.
Spencer Berger kicked off for Aubrey. The ball traveled to the end zone for a touchback to the Gilmer 25 where the Bucks began their first possession of the contest.
Cadon Tennison hit Will Henderson for a gain of 18 but Gilmer was called for holding, setting up a 1st and 10 at the 28. It was a quick three-and-out and Brayden Pate punted from the Gilmer 25 to the Aubrey 25 where the Chaps went on offense for the first time.
The Black Flag Defense forced a three-and-out of their own and after a punt by quarterback Brock Temple; the Buckeyes began their next drive at their 25.
On the second play of the drive Tennison ran down the left sideline following great blocks by his teammates 75 yards into the end zone with 8:33 left in the first quarter for a TD. Pate hit the PAT and Gilmer had a quick 7-0 lead. The drive was 2 plays, 78 yards and took just 40 seconds.
Pate’s ensuing kickoff went out of bounds and the Chaps began their second drive at their 30.
After garnering one first down the Black Flag forced a punt on the next series. The punt was shanked and traveled only from midfield to the Gilmer 33 where the Buckeyes set up on offense again.
Tennison drove the offense down to the Aubrey 17 where Pate came in to kick a 34-yard field goal. The kick was good, putting Gilmer up 10-0 with 57 seconds left in the opening quarter. The drive was 11 plays, 50 yards and took 4:50 off the clock.
Pate’s kickoff was pooched and returned to the Chap 41. Jaedon Bogar came in at quarterback on the possession.
Bogar moved the offense down deep into Gilmer territory and the Chaps faced a 4th and 4 at the Gilmer 26. Aubrey picked up the first down on a 6-yard run by Bogar and on the next play he hit Tyler Brown for a 21-yard TD pass with 10:02 left in the first half. Spencer Berger hit the extra point and the score was 10-7. The drive was 7 plays, 59 yards and took 2:55.
The Bucks started in a hole at their 10 after a holding call on the return. Unfazed, the offense moved methodically down the field and into the end zone for their second TD of the game. The score came on a 19-yard pass from Tennison to Brendan Webb with 6:07 left in the half. Pate split the uprights on the extra point and Gilmer moved back out to a 10-point lead, 17-7.
Pate’s next kick was returned from the 25 up to midfield and Aubrey set up in great field position. The Chaps moved into the end zone for their second TD of the afternoon on a 7-play, 50-yard drive that took 3:10. The score came on a 9-yard TD run by Emerson Cagle with 2:57 left in the half. Berger’s extra point was good and the score was 17-14 Gilmer.
The Buckeyes began their next drive at midfield after a brilliant kickoff return by Geramiah Noble from his 16 for 34 yards. Unfortunately, the Chaps forced a three-and-out and following a punt by Noble, Aubrey began their final drive of the half at their 20.
Thanks to a 15-yard personal foul call on the Buckeyes, Aubrey got a first down and took advantage, scoring on the next play when Bogar hit Brown on a 21-yard TD pass with 15 seconds left till halftime. Berger hit the extra point and Aubrey took their first lead of the game, 21-17. The 80-yard drive consumed 1:41 and took 12 plays.
Berger’s kickoff was fair caught by Webb and Gilmer began their final drive of the half on their 25. They ran 3 plays and gained down to the Chap 41 to end the half with the Bucks trailing 21-17 and Aubrey scheduled to receive the ball to begin the second half.
Pate kicked off to Aubrey and Bogar and his offense hit the field for their first possession of the second half. The Black Flag came out fired up and forced a three-and-out, and after an Aubrey punt the Bucks set up on their 29.
After managing to pick up one first down the Chaps forced a Pate punt from the Gilmer 44to the Aubrey 6 with a booming 50-yard punt. After another three-and-out the Buckeyes started following a Temple punt at the Aubrey 38 with their best starting field position of the game.
Tennison and company took advantage, moving the 38 yards to pay dirt in 5 plays and 1:40. The score came on a 7-yard TD run by Will Henderson with 7:02 left in the third quarter. Pate was true on the extra point kick and Gilmer regained the lead, 24-21.
Pate’s next kick went to the Aubrey 17 and after a fumble and a short return, the Chaps set up on their 26 for their next possession.
They moved down inside Buckeye territory but on a key 3rd down play a low snap was fumbled by Bogar. He recovered, but for a 17-yard loss. Following a punt Webb returned the ball 85 yards for a TD, but Gilmer was called for a holding and began the drive at their 20.
They moved down to the Aubrey 30, but a 4th and 4 run resulted in a 2-yard loss and Aubrey took over on downs at that point. The Black Flag stood strong once again and forced another Chap punt. The kick boomed for 54 yards and Gilmer set up on their 11.
Tennison led the offense all the way down to the Aubrey 2, but on 3rd and goal he was dropped for a 5-yard loss, resulting in a Pate 26-yard field goal with 7:44 left in the game. The kick pushed the Gilmer lead to 27-21. The drive was 82 yards over 13 plays that took 4:16.
The ensuing Pate kickoff was returned down the left sideline to the Gilmer 45 where Bogar and his unit went back to work.
They picked up one first down, and facing a 4th and 11, Temple who had come back in at quarterback threw an 87-yard pick-6 interception to Aron Bell with 4:56 left in the game. Pate added the extra point and Gilmer all but sewed up the victory, leading 34-21.
Pate’s kick went to the 20 and was returned up to the 43. Bogar returned at quarterback for the drive. On the first play of the possession he was intercepted by Ta’Erik Tate at the Gilmer 33 and he returned the pick to the Aubrey 36 and Gilmer went back on offense.
The Bux just ran the ball trying to take as much time off the clock as possible. After two offsetting penalties on fourth down, Pate nailed a punt down to the Aubrey 3, and the Chaps got one more chance on offense to end the game.
Bogar threw sideline routes to pick up first downs and allow his receivers to get out of bounds. On the fifth play of the drive Noble intercepted Bogar at the Gilmer 41 and returned the ball to the Gilmer 41, sealing the game. Tennison and the offense came out in victory formation and ran 3 plays and the game ended. The Bucks now move to 10-3 on the season and move on to face the Carthage Bulldogs in the Class 4A DII Region 2 Championship game at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler on Friday night, December 1st at 7 p.m.. Carthage will be the home team and Gilmer will be the visitors. Tickets will be $10. District passes, Buckeye Orange Cards, THSCA cards and military cards will be honored for free admission.
When we talked to Coach Alan Metzel after the big win we first asked him to talk about the job the Black Flag Defense did in the game.
“Well, they were so maligned early in the year; so many people down, so many of those kind of things, and you are where you are and it is what it is, and you can do one of two things. You can go feel sorry for yourself and stick your tail between your legs and go away, or you just keep chipping away. That’s what you saw. You saw a defensive staff that worked their tails off, you saw players that owned where they were, and they just got better week after week after week, and man did they come through tonight!”
We then asked the coach what the team changed at halftime to make the big difference in the second half.
“Well, we had a little come to Jesus meeting! I looked at my seniors and I said ‘YOU have to decide ‘not tonight’; we’re not done tonight and we’ll do what you do.’ Look at the guys who came out and they made those plays—Aron Bell, Ta’Erik Tate, Will Henderson, Dhrvay Smith, Sean Wallace, Kam Brown; they went out and they made plays. They just said ‘not tonight.’ I’m so proud of the way they rallied. It’s those kinds of moments that endear you. They bring you together and 20 years from now they’ll be talking about this. That’s a special thing.”
We brought up that the offense got rolling when they absolutely had to in the game and Coach Metzel responded, “Cadon just continues to take ownership of the offense, making big plays, great runs, taking care of the ball. Ta’Erik made a big catch on the slant route, and as much as anything, it was the attitude that he had in the play where we were not to be denied. I’m thrilled for these guys. When you preach doing this and digging in they get the reward for it.”
We mentioned that as they have done all season, when the team faces adversity they just keep overcoming it and moving forward without it stressing them at all.
“I agree. Somehow, it strikes your chord. I would prefer to clean some things up and make it a little easier, but the grit that you see in these young men, it’s those things that are just going to make them great in life.”
We also said that early in the year with all the challenges of getting the right people in the right positions on defense that almost no one felt the team could win 10 games this year and get a rematch with Carthage and we asked his thoughts on that.
“It’s what you start the season preparing to do. It’s that week that’s zeroed in on your calendar. We’ve got work to do this week. We understand that. It’s going to be a war. It’ll be a battle extraordinaire. Right now we’re grateful to get to be a part of it.”
We asked if he would agree that the team is in a better spot this year going up against the Bulldogs in the fourth round than they were last year in the third round even though they were undefeated going into the game last year.
“Correct, I agree. We’re healthier for one thing. We have a team (where) the needle’s pointing up. We’re heading in the right direction and we’re ready to go and tackle this challenge.”
Congratulations, Buckeyes and now let’s take Carthage out next week!