By Phillip Williams
HALLSVILLE–A bonanza of Big Bang bursts for touchdowns by runner/receiver Will Henderson coerced the Center Roughriders into a rough ride as the Gilmer Buckeyes confounded Center, 69-42, in a Class 4A Division 2 bi-district bash Friday night.
Henderson forced five TDs–four runs and a pass reception–down the Roughriders’ gullets as his team heaped a haystack of long-distance scores. Gilmer (8-3) now rumbles with Sunnyvale in the second round of Playoff Paradise at 7 p.m. Thursday in Tyler.
Center completed its campaign at 7-4.
The gist of Friday’s fray at Bobcat Stadium is that Gilmer’s offense was about as stoppable as an F5 tornado or plague of frogs, while Center’s was debilitated by dropped passes and inconsistency in moving the pigskin. The Roughriders suffered substantially from those afflictions despite dispensing only one turnover (Gilmer surrendered nary a one.)
While Center actually led 14-13 at one point, thanks to an oddball and rare 1-point safety, Gilmer toted up a 41-14 advantage at Twirling Time and bulked that up to 48-14 in the third quarter before Center planted its last 28 points upon the overtaxed scoreboard.
So prolific was the scoring that the game, counting halftime, stretched two hours and 50 minutes.
The Buckeye barrage began early as Gilmer kicked off, forced a punt after Center made one first down, and soon scored when Henderson screamed 48 yards down the left side with 9:24 left in the initial quarter.
Highly reliable kicker Brayden Pate airlifted the first of his eight successful PATs (teammate Miguel Casteneda popped the last one and Gilmer unsuccessfully tried for two points after one TD).
Center rebounded with rapid response when quarterback Emonte Cross chunked a 48-yard tally to Da’Calvion Edwards with 8:12 remaining in the opening period, and Carlos Hernandez whammed the PAT.
Then the Roughriders briefly seized the lead when Kaden Dixon rolled three yards with 4:10 left in the inaugural quadrant before the bizarre safety.
Gilmer blocked Hernandez’s kick, but Center was awarded the one point, reportedly because the ball ended up in the end zone after the Buckeyes tried to advance it.
Unruffled by this peculiar turn of events, Gilmer overtook the Roughriders for good with a 35-point scoring binge before Center could summon any more scores.
Henderson hastened seven yards with 3:03 still left in quarter one. Aron Bell’s run for two points failed.
Then backup quarterback Jaden Edmond entered the arena for a while and sent a short pass to the incredibly speedy Henderson, who turned it into a 71-yard TD with 32 seconds still left in the opening quarter.
With Gilmer now up 20-14, the Buckeye Blitzkrieg continued when runner Dhrvay Smith thundered 82 yards with 9:40 left to intermission. Then Henderson hustled 44 yards down the left side with 7:03 remaining for another TD before Bell bounced 13 yards on a fourth-down play to ring up six more points with 1:05 left.
It was symbolic of Center’s lack of luck for the evening that Hernandez tried a 49-yard field goal that hit the crossbar with one second left to Band Time. (It was also symbolic that Center’s band arrived for the game so late before kickoff that it didn’t get to play the school song.)
In the third quarter, the Buckeye bombardment continued when Henderson wheeled five yards with 6:16 left before the Roughriders launched their own scoring flurry. They tallied on Dixon’s 1-yard hop with 3:50 remaining. Hernandez’s kick was blocked again, but there was no strange safety this time.
And Gilmer detonated the dam again on Smith’s 74-yard run to the left with 2:56 still left in the third before the Roughriders Bingoed on Cross’ 12-yard heave to Lance Wilburn with 17 seconds still to go.
Cross ran over a 2-point conversion on a feigned kick, but the game’s only turnover soon led to more Gilmer Glory. Cross dispensed a fumble at his 33 on an apparent busted play, and on the third play afterward, starting quarterback Cadon Tennison sent a 20-yard jump pass to Ta’Erik Tate to tally with 7:06 left in the affray.
The Points Parade continued with what would have been a show-stopper had the Roughriders not been hopelessly behind by this point, as Wilburn took the subsequent kickoff and whistled 78 yards to a TD. A botched snap prevented kicking the PAT.
Gilmer’s Daydrion Jimmerson wound up his team’s torrent of touchdowns with a 7-yard run with 4:10 left, while Cross dispatched a 11-yard TD throw to Timothy Johnson for the game’s last touchdown with 2:29 remaining.
Cross ran over the conversion, but on this night, the Buckeyes had caught the Roughriders in their crosshairs.