By Phillip Williams
‘Twas the night when Paris got plastered.
Gilmer runner Ashton Haynes hoofed for a trio of touchdowns, while quarterback Cadon Tennison heaved for two more, as the No. 2-ranked Gilmer Buckeyes poleaxed the Paris Wildcats, 50-7, Friday night to hail a Heavenly Homecoming at Jeff Traylor Stadium in Gilmer.
Gilmer’s defense, which absolutely hog-tied the Wildcats’ lifeless offense with sure-handed tackling, would have staged a shutout had Paris freshman Keshawn Roberts not produced a stupefying 78-yard kickoff return to tally with only 1:55 left in the contest. This feat came right after unvanquished Gilmer mounted its lead to 50-0 over its winless adversary.
The Buckeyes led only 6-0 at first quarter’s end, but expanded that to 27-0 by twirling time as Gilmer (3-0) presented its most impressive performance of the season to date. While the Buckeyes had produced plentiful points in their first two engagements, they also had ceded a fair number of scores in triumphs of 51-27 over Chapel Hill and 40-26 over Kilgore.
Paris (0-3) was a different type of tale, its offense victimized not by its own blunders so much as simply seeming to lack any speed, blocking, or athletic agility.
Other than the kickoff return, the visitors mustered but one serious scoring threat all evening, reaching the Buckeye 2 only to see runner Taydrick Dawson halted for no gain on fourth down with 1:20 left to Music Time.
Gilmer had leaped ahead 27-0 before snuffing this Wildcat offensive.
The Buckeyes reached Beulah Land on their own opening offensive, trooping 89 yards as Haynes bopped the final yard for the tally. On what looked like either a feigned kick or botched play, holder Jaden Edmond ran unsuccessfully for two points with 6:42 left in the inaugural quarter.
After Paris defender Johnathan Jones purloined a pass from Tennison, setting the Wildcats up at the Paris 46, the visitors went three-and-out and punted, opening the roadway for Gilmer’s next tally on a 71-yard possession.
That push ended with star receiver Rohan Fluellen reaching up to snag Tennison’s high heave for a 14-yard TD on the second quarter’s opening play. Sure-footed Gilmer kicker Jose Govea airlifted the first of his six successful PATs with 11:55 left to intermission.
Paris gifted the Buckeyes with one of its few bobbles when quarterback Cortrevious Booker dispensed a fumble to Gilmer’s Chris Guillen at the Wildcat 25. On the third play afterward, Haynes hastened five yards to his left for the TD with 9:13 still remaining to Band Time.
After another Paris punt, the Buckeyes steamrolled 73 yards to Glory Land again as Tennison zipped a 30-yard scoring sling to Cade Bowman with 5:41 still to go in the quarter.
After the musical interlude, Gilmer took the second-half kickoff and required mere seconds for toting up more points. The 65-yard scoring raid took but two plays–Tennison’s 61-yard airmail to Fluellen, followed by Haynes cruising four yards around right end with 11:20 left in the quadrant.
Paris soon self-harmed itself with a high snap on a punt try, resulting in a safety when the pigskin bounced off punter Preston Harper’s hands and went out of the back of the end zone.
That Wildcat woe made it 36-0 with 1:56 left in the third. Gilmer took the free kick, and promptly strode 54 yards to pull off another TD thrust as Will Henderson hurried 19 yards around right end.
Ironically, that play with 45 seconds left in the third came right after offsetting penalties had negated a Gilmer TD.
Paris reached the Gilmer 28, only to lose possession on downs when Booker was cited for intentional grounding at the 34. From there, the Buckeyes launched their final incursion into the Wildcat end zone as Brayden Rash ripped the final three yards of an elongated hike with 2:09 left.
Then came the lone Paris hoorah, which drew an enthusiastic cheer from the diehard Wildcat fans before Paul Torres slammed his lone PAT. After the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, Gilmer ran out the clock.
The Buckeyes motor to Lindale this Friday for a 7:30 p.m. tilt before having two straight open dates.
And Paris was left to wish that last Friday night had been one of them.