By Phillip Williams
TEXARKANA–Were you to inquire of both the Gilmer Buckeyes and the Liberty-Eylau Leopards whether there is any validity to the long-held superstition that Friday the Thirteenth is a Day of Dread, the two teams would give confoundingly contradictory responses.
The Buckeyes would assure you it was a day that is luckier than finding a field of four-leaf clovers.
The Leopards would tell you it was a day to either stay in bed–or perhaps hide beneath it.
On Friday night, Oct. 13, the teams demonstrated why they’d hold vastly varying views of the date as Gilmer levigated Liberty-Eylau, 56-12, at Harris Field in a District 7-4A Division II dustup.
The Buckeyes’ much-maligned defense, which had unwillingly ceded a mortifying 316 points in only six prior clashes, tucked a trio of thefts off L-E quarterback Britian Pipes’ passes, returning two of them for touchdowns. (The other also appeared to have been returned for a “pick-six,” but a penalty negated the score.)
Another aspect of the visitors’ praiseworthy performance on defense was that the 12 points were the fewest an opponent foisted on Gilmer (4-3, 1-1) all season. (The previous low was 24 in a game the Buckeyes lost, and the team had given up anywhere from 40-71 points in all its other outings.)
Meantime, the Gilmer offense, quarterbacked nearly the whole game by backup Jaden Edmond after starter Cadon Tennison was injured last week, fulfilled its obligation by registering six TDs, three of them on Edmond’s scoring slings. (He didn’t play Friday, but Tennison, who was to undergo a concussion protocol this week, is expected back before season’s end.)
Friday’s contest, by far the most lopsided Buckeye triumph of the year although the team had scored an immense 288 points in its half-dozen prior wargames, was so one-sided that officials ran the clock without stopping it for nearly the whole fourth quarter.
Gilmer toted up leads of 28-0 at first quarter’s end and 42-6 at Twirling Time. For once, Yogi Berra was wrong because this one was over before it was over.
L-E drooped to 1-6, 0-2 in district dustups, with one of its few highlights being that the oft-intercepted Pipes at least hoofed for one TD and heaved for another.
Gilmer swiftly set about horrifying the hosts, returning the opening kickoff all the way to the L-E 25 and immediately gaining five more yards on an off sides penalty before changing the scoreboard in only four plays. Edmond sent a scoring sling of 17 yards to Ta’Erik Tate before Brayden Pate airlifted the first of his eight successful PATs with 9:56 left in the first verse.
Then the Buckeyes stupefied the Leopards by successfully kicking onside, promptly sparking a 37-yard, 4-play offensive that concluded with Smith’s 2-yard TD trip with 8:58 still left in the opening quadrant.
Thus, in only 58 seconds of playing time, the Buckeyes had bounded to a 14-0 lead less than midway through the initial quarter. And the Leopards would never come anywhere near being fully resuscitated from it.
Catastrophe continued to envelop the hosts as Pipes flung the first of his interceptions, which initially appeared to have been returned by Tate for a TD, only to have a penalty negate the score, but not the turnover.
Gilmer assumed possession at its 19 and drew another penalty to its 14 before embarking on an eight-play travelogue to another score. Aron Bell rang it up with a 1-yard clang to Beulah Land with 2:46 still left in the inaugural quarter.
And soon after the ensuing kickoff, Buckeye Kamryn Brown purloined a Pipes pass and rumbled 36 yards to tally with 29 seconds left in the quarter. The scoreboard operator even ran the clock on Pate’s PAT–not the only time that happened during the game–which came with 24 seconds left.
L-E briefly rallied after a while as Pipes wrote finis to a 48-yard, 6-play surge with a spectacular 30-yard TD trip around the right side with 5:02 left to intermission.
A feigned kick on the conversion failed when a pass fell incomplete with 5:01 left, but L-E had cut its disadvantage to 28-6 and seemed to have a fighting chance.
Not for long, however.
Gilmer returned the ensuing kickoff to its 21 and, after four straight runs by Dhrvay Smith, then a 5-yard penalty against the Buckeyes, Edmond loosed a 65-yard blowtorch to Geremiah Noble for the TD with 2:26 left in the period. Pate’s PAT came with 2:24 left.
Gilmer wasn’t through with its first-half rampage as Edmond rocketed a 25-yarder to Jamar Byrd for yet another tally with only five seconds remaining to Music Time.
The Leopards commendably fought on, taking the second-half kickoff and soon hitting the bull’s eye when Pipes placed a 52-yard TD in the hands of Tarvious Neal with 9:55 left in the third. A pass for two points failed.
Gilmer’s final six-pointers came on Smith’s 2-yard bop with 4:55 left in the third, soon followed by defender Harrison Lofton filching yet another interception and romping 37 yards with 2:52 left in the quarter.