By Phillip Williams
TEXARKANA–The Gilmer Buckeyes unleashed a tonnage of touchdowns from both their offense and defense, totting up a 27-point fourth-quarter blitzkrieg to lacerate the Liberty-Eylau Leopards, 51-7, in a District 8-4A dustup Friday night at Harris Field.
After a scoreless first period, Gilmer glided to a 17-0 lead at twirling time and led 24-7 at third quarter’s end before the ferocious fourth-quarter assault that featured two stupefying TDs by the Buckeye defense–an interception and fumble return. In the meantime, the visitors’ offense certainly performed its role as runner Ladaylon Jackson hoofed for three touchdowns on the night and fellow runner Ashton Haynes procured two more.
Liberty-Eylau, which tried two quarterbacks, suffered from a bevy of overthrown passes and more than one breakdown near Gilmer’s goal line. In the meantime, Jackson’s running ran the Leopard defense more ragged than a 20-year-old bath towel.
And Gilmer’s Jose Hernandez not only airlifted all five of his PATs successfully, but scored a defensive touchdown and notched a field goal. The Buckeyes showed little evidence of having been distracted by the mammoth East Texas Yamboree festival going on back in Gilmer, instead making the Leopards feel like they had been subjected to a nightlong non-stop ride on the Yamboree’s ferris wheel.
The visitors, who host weak North Lamar at 7:30 p.m. Friday, thus climbed to 7-1 overall, 3-0 in district disputations, while L-E descended to 5-3, 2-1.
After halting L-E at the Gilmer 3-yard-line on the fray’s opening offensive, the Buckeyes’ own offense could not tally until Haynes wheeled eight yards with 9:44 left in the second period. Hernandez then bonked a 22-yard field goal with 5:28 left to intermission before Jackson thundered 13 yards for another six points with 1:21 left to Music Time.
Gilmer whipped the count to 24-0 when Jackson bopped four yards around left end with 8:49 left in the third period. The Leopards replaced struggling starting quarterback Jaydin Hampton after halftime with Cal Jones, who fired an interception before firing up his team enough to ingest its lone TD all night on Imahd Hicks’ 9-yard rumble with 3:48 left in the third. Jones clanged the PAT.
L-E was still in the game, at least marginally, until the earth was kicked from beneath its feet in the fourth-quarter fallout.
First, Haynes whooshed 10 yards to score with 11:44 remaining. Then, only 17 seconds later, Hernandez pilfered a shovel pass from Jones and returned it 28 yards to score, eventually prompting the Leopards to re-insert Hampton at quarterback.
After Jackson screamed 19 yards for another TD with 7:54 left, and backup kicker Weston Mayhan’s PAT failed, the final score was a show-stopper. L-E had reached the Gilmer 1, only to have Hampton make an errant pitchout, which Buckeye defender Will Blakeley returned 98 yards with 2:24 left.
The Buckeyes’ third-string placekicker, Omero Orona, banged the game’s final point.