By Phillip Williams
LINDALE–The No. 2-ranked Gilmer Buckeyes’ volcanic offense tallied at will, totting up its highest single-game point total all year to make mincemeat of the Mexia Blackcats, 71-14, in a Class 4A Division II bi-district bloodying Thursday night.
Gilmer (10-1), which scored on every possession except its last in the first half and final one in the game, is now catapulted into Playoff Paradise’s second round next Friday against Caddo Mills in Mesquite. Game time is to be announced, as is whether the contest will be at Memorial Stadium or Hanby Stadium, Gilmer Coach Alan Metzel said late Friday.
The Buckeyes maimed Mexia in short order on the evening of Veterans Day, whistling to a staggering 50-7 lead at twirling time before officials ran the clock part of the second half. Mexia (2-9) moved the ball somewhat ably against the Buckeye defense, only to cede the pigskin on downs more than once in Gilmer territory, and bewilderingly behold its own defense wither like ice cream on a 120-degree day.
By both air and land, Gilmer uncorked a plague of points on the Blackcats reminiscent of the Biblical plague of locusts.
Gilmer’s opening scoring salvo came when Ashton Haynes hoofed 16 yards, then ran over a 2-point conversion on the “swinging gate” with 10:51 left in the first quarter.
Soon after Buckeye defender Landon Watson purloined a pass from Blackcats quarterback Nate Burns (who relieved starter Trey Betts very early in the contest), Gilmer hit the jackpot again as Cadon Tennison rolled 36 yards and kicker Jose Hernandez airlifted the first of his six consecutive successful PATs with 9:50 still left in the inaugural period.
The Gilmer assault continued as Haynes hastened four yards with exactly three minutes left in the opening quadrant before Mexia finally procured points on Burns’ 27-yard heave to Kayleb Mathews. David Devila banged the first of his two PAT kicks with only 18 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
But just when Mexia appeared on the verge of perhaps putting up a bare-knuckles brawl, Gilmer’s Rohan Fluellen stupefied the Bearcats by returning the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for a TD with three seconds left in the period, making it 29-7 after the PAT.
The Buckeye touchdown rampage continued in the second quarter as quarterback Brandon Tennison dispatched a 10-yard pass to Keith Rockwell with 10:25 left; Fluellen took a pitch on a reverse to the right 21 yards with 5:02 left; and Tennison sent a 26-yard sling to Parker Gilow with 3:09 left.
Gilow’s score came immediately after the Buckeyes partly blocked a punt from the Blackcat 33-yard-line, giving Gilmer possession backat the 26.
Near the half’s end, Mexia stalled on downs at the Gilmer 9, and the Buckeyes took a knee to end the quarter. They would score on every offensive afterward until their unusual final possession.
With the clock running non-stop, Gilmer mercifully took the highly unorthodox step of taking a knee on several consecutive plays far earlier than usual in a game. The Buckeyes began that with over three minutes remaining before punting for the only time all night with 55 seconds left.
Earlier, the bands blared at halftime, but Mexia continued to face the music afterward. The Blackcats took the second-half kickoff, and reached the Gilmer 37 only to again run out of downs. On the second play afterward, they sustained another devastating Buckeye Big Bang when backup quarterback Cadon Tennison (the starter’s brother) whizzed a 54-yard TD throw to Will Blakeley with 9:38 left in the third.
Backup kicker Weston Mayhan banged the first of his three PATs with 9:38 left in the third. Then Gilmer backup running back Will Henderson whistled 40 yards to Beulah Land with 5:11 left in the third before the Blackcats finally managed to acquire their second and final TD on Burns’ 36-yard zip to receiver Victor Olvera with 44 seconds left in the quarter.
The Buckeyes concluded their parade of points as Michael Colbert hooked ’em 26 yards with 5:57 left in the one-sided dustup before the PAT. Thus continued Gilmer on the playoff path toward a potential second straight appearance in the state championship duel.