By Elizabeth McKamy
The fans got all they asked for Friday night at R E St John Memorial Stadium in Kilgore as the visiting Gladewater Bears scored 21 unanswered points to come from behind to defeat the host Kilgore Bulldogs 35-28 and spoil their Homecoming. Gladewater’s WR DJ Allen scooped up a Devon Walker fumble and raced 72 yards with 2:51 left in the game to put the Bears up for good. Gladewater, who had started the possession at their own 1 yard line, after a 53 yard punt by Kilgore’s Cade Pippen, called Walker’s number up the middle. Walker plowed his way for 27 yards, but a hard hit from the Bulldogs Donovan Adkins knocked the ball loose and right into the hands of Bear speedster Allen who took it to the house.
Gladewater, for the 2nd week in a row, used outstanding special team play to keep themselves in the game, overcoming a 28-14 late 3rd Quarter Kilgore lead. The Bears scored the last 21 points and the Bear defense shutout the potent Bulldog offense in the 4th Quarter.
It took Kilgore less than a minute to get on the scoreboard. After receiving the opening kickoff, Sr QB Dalton McElyea hit Sr RB Tray Epps on a swing pass and Epps broke tackles and ran 58 yards for the score. Jr Chris Baldazo’s kick was good and the Bulldogs led 7-0 with 11:15 left in the 1st Quarter.
Gladewater struck back with lightning speed as the Bears return man Sr Eligia Carter took the ensuing kickoff 102 yards to paydirt. Sr Justice Hassek split the uprights to tie the game at 7 with 10:59 left in the 1st Quarter.
The Bulldogs got their 2nd touchdown of the night after McElyea hit Sr Brian Brown with a 34 yard pass to give Kilgore a 1st and 10 at the Bear 22 yard line. Three plays later RB Jermaine Roney ran the ball in from 6 yards out, giving Kilgore a 14-7 lead with :27 seconds left in the 1st Quarter.
Gladewater used their next possession to go 75 yards in 12 plays, getting big runs on 3rd downs from QB Tristan Holmes, Carter and Walker to extend the Bear drive, giving them the ball inside the Kilgore 5 yard line. On 1st and goal from the 3 yard line, Walker took the handoff and scored. Hassek’s kick was good and with 6:40 left in the half the score was knotted at 14.
After a missed 33 yard field goal by Kilgore and a Bear punt that was returned 45 yards by the Bulldogs Adkins, Kilgore set up shop at the Gladewater 30 yard line. Seven plays later a QB sneak by McElyea from the 1 yard line put Kilgore back in front. Baldozo’s kick was good and the Bulldogs led 21-14 at the half.
Gladewater took the 2nd half kickoff but couldn’t muster any offense going 3 and out. The Bulldogs used a 52 yard pass from McElyea to Epps to give them a 1st and 10 at the Bear 22 yard line. Looking to widen their lead on Gladewater, QB McElyea threw a pass into the endzone, but the Bear’s Tyrone Maddox intercepted the ball and stopped the Bulldog threat.
Kilgore got the ball back after a Bear fumble was recovered by Bulldog Davin Rider, who returned the fumble 45 yards for the touchdown, but a 15 yard penalty nullified the score. Kilgore still in Bear territory weren’t to be denied going 45 yards in 7 plays. A Rider 1 yard touchdown with 2:55 left in the 3rd Quarter put the Bulldogs up by 14.
On the ensuing kickoff Kilgore elected not to kick it deep, staying away from the dangerous Bear returnees, instead kicking it to Gladewater’s K’Havia Reese. Reese caught the ball at the Bear 31 yard line and raced up the sidelines, 69 yards for Gladewater’s 2nd kickoff return touchdown of the night. Hassek’s pat was good and the Bears narrowed the Bulldog lead to 7 with 2:39 left in the 3rd Quarter.
Gladewater tied the game in the 4th Quarter going 59 yards in 10 plays, cultimating in a 6 yard Malachi Gordon run. The extra point was good and with 7:20 left in the game it was 28 all.
The Bear defense stiffened in the 4th Quarter, stopping Kilgore twice on 3 and outs, leading to Allen’s fumble recovery return for the Bears winning touchdown.
Kilgore tried to come back to tie the score and send the game into overtime, but a Bulldog fumble at the Bear 14 yard line, recovered by Gladewater’s G’Braylon Polly, dashed any Kilgore hope for a Homecoming victory.
The Bears open district next Friday, September 26th, hosting the Tatum Eagles. Game time is 7:30.