By Elizabeth McKamy
The skies over Jack V. Murphy “Bear” Stadium were filled with missiles as Gladewater’s “Air Raid” brought down the Eagles of Tatum 42-21 here Friday night in the District 6 3A Div. 1 season opener. Bear Sr QB Tristan Holmes threw for 350 yards and connected with Jr WR DJ Allen for 5 touchdowns and the Bear defense came up with two key interceptions enroute to the victory.
Gladewater got on the scoreboard first, taking the opening kickoff and going 65 yards in 17 plays, eating up over 7:00 minutes off the clock, converting three 4th downs to keep the drive moving. Holmes hit Allen with a 15 yard TD strike and Sr K Justice Hassek split the uprights to give Gladewater a 7-0 lead with 4:16 left in the 1st Quarter.
The Bears scored again in the 2nd Quarter after Jr DL Eli Kates intercepted Tatum QB Kendric Malone’s pass and returned it 14 yards to give Gladewater great field position at their own 46 yard line. Four plays later Holmes hit Allen again, this time from 48 yards out. Hassek’s pat was good and the Bears led 14-0 with 10:04 left in the 2nd Quarter.
Tatum got their first points of the game going on a 9 play, 70 yard drive. Malone, who was 18 of 31 passing for 302 yards in the game, hit Jr WR Kendall Williams for 13 yards and the touchdown. Sr K Omar Rodriquez was perfect on the extra point and the Eagles narrowed the Bear lead to 14-7 with 2:51 left in the half. Two minutes later the Bears answered Tatum’s TD with one of their own when Holmes threw a perfect pass for 26 yards to Allen to give each their 3rd score of the contest and a 21-7 Bear halftime lead.
The Eagles used only :18 seconds to get back on the board after taking the 2nd half kickoff. The Bear defense stepped up on 1st and 2nd down, but a beautiful pass from Malone to Quiston Sheffield for 63 yards gave Tatum added life. The extra point was good, making the score Bears 21, Tatum 14.
Gladewater coughed up the ball on their next possession, giving Tatum the ball in Bear territory, but the Gladewater defense held firm, getting a big QB sack from Kates. On 4th and 24 from their own 38, K Rodriquez hit a towering 52 yard punt that rolled to the Bear 10 yard line. Three plays later Holmes threw a 89 yard bomb that appeared to be out of the reach of his receiver, but Allen made a spectacular, one handed grab, to haul in the pass and increase the Bear lead to 28-14 with 8:20 left in the 3rd Quarter.
Tatum went 50 yards in 9 plays on their next possession, but once again the Gladewater defense stiffened, and on 4th and 7 from the Bear 16 yard line, K Rodriques 33 yard field goal try failed, turning the ball back over to the home team. Holmes and Allen connected on their 5th TD four plays later, this time for 69 yards. Hassek’s kick was good and the Bears led 35-14 with 2:55 left in the 3rd Quarter.
After an Eagle short punt, Gladewater got their final points of the contest going 46 yards in 7 plays, scoring on Jr RB Jakeven Hardeman’s 2 yard run. The pat was good, making the score 42-14 with 10:42 left in the game.
Tatum got a “garbage time” touchdown , rounding out the scoring on a Malone 5 yard run with 9:20 left in the game. After a 7 play drive by the Bears stalled, Tatum went on a 12 play, 49 yard drive led by Jr QB Jackson Richardson, but a Hardeman interception on the games last play ended the Eagle threat.
The Bears travel to New Boston next Friday, October 2nd at 7:30 in only the 2nd meeting between these two schools. The Bears won the first meeting 40-7 in the Region playoffs in 1984. For longtime Bear fans that 1984 match-up with New Boston came the week before what would arguably be called one of the greatest games in Texas High School football, the showdown with the 1983 State Champion Daingerfield Tigers at Rose Stadium in Tyler. That classic playoff game ended in a 27-27 tie after the Tigers blocked a Gladewater extra point late in the game. Daingerfield advanced 6-5 on penetrations.