By Phillip Williams
BULLARD–Gilmer Buckeyes quarterback Mason Hurt inflicted injury on the Bullard Panthers’ psyche, tossing three touchdowns as Gilmer bludgeoned Bullard, 43-7, on a windy Friday night at Panther Stadium.
Gilmer (4-2), which has given up only seven points in its last two outings combined, opens district dustups at home at 7:30 p.m. Friday against a worthy foe, the Spring Hill Panthers.
The Buckeyes “Black Flag Defense” scored Friday’s first tally shortly after kickoff. Bullard went three-and-out on the game’s opening offensive and the Panther punter bungled trying to handle a flawed snap from his 20-yard-line. Gilmer’s Brycen Jimmerson purloined the pigskin from the turf and crossed the goal line.
Jose Hernandez airlifted the first of four successful PATs with 11:08 left in the first verse.
Gilmer’s next tally was a Big Bang as Hurt heaved an 82-yard bomb to Eddie Ray with 4:32 still left in the first period. The Buckeyes feigned a PAT kick, but Hurt’s pass for points was incomplete. (The Buckeyes also tried the old “swinging gate” trick play on the conversion after their fifth TD, but it, too, failed).
Buckeye runner Davion Smith hoofed 23 yards on a tackle-breaking TD thrust with 9:17 left to twirling time before Bullard briefly bulled its way back into the brawl. After Panther Latrez Young made a midair fumble recovery on a Gilmer pass completion and returned it to the Buckeye 9, Bullard quarterback Tristen Shewmake, who endured a largely unpleasant night, airmailed a 5-yard scoring sling to Connor Carson in the end zone.
Christian Moore’s PAT ended his team’s scoring for the evening with 3:07 left to the band break.
Their lead suddenly sliced to 20-7, the Buckeyes soon launched a confounding counter-punch after Bullard tried an unsuccessful onside kickoff. Darrell Bush bounded five yards for a TD with 1:19 left to intermission, making it 27-7 at the break after the PAT.
Bullard’s band assembled on the stadium track directly behind its team’s bench for the second-half kickoff, standing and seeking to rouse the Panthers with some inspiring music. Instead, the home team soon had to face the music.
Bullard tried another unsuccessful onside kickoff, giving Gilmer possession at the Buckeye 48. Hurt and Ray soon persecuted the Panthers again, hooking up on a 17-yard TD with exactly 10 minutes left in the third quarter before Hernandez clanged a 27-yard field goal with 7:49 left in that period.
Hurt launched another lethal lofting when he heaved a 47-yard TD to Jaydon Griffin with 7:37 left in the wargame. Bullard then replaced Shewmake with backup quarterback Cooper Callaway and the Panthers reached the Gilmer 31, only to see Callaway’s fourth-down pass late in the game go incomplete.