By Phillip Williams
PITTSBURG–Quarterback Brandon Tennison heaved four touchdown throws as the Gilmer Buckeyes toted up a stupefying 31-0 lead at first quarter’s end, lengthened it to 41-0 at twirling time and came within 14 seconds of staging a shutout to paddle the winless Pittsburg Pirates, 41-6, in a District 8-4A Division II dustup Friday night.
Buckeye kicker Jose Hernandez successfully airlifted two of his three field goal attempts, as well as notching all five PAT attempts, as Gilmer advanced to 6-1 overall (2-0 in loop encounters) while the Pirates sank to 0-6.
The Buckeyes, known for their sluggish starts in games this year, blew out of the chute with dispatch this time as Tennison hurled three of his scoring slings in the first quarter, and the volcanic Gilmer attack produced points on its first six offensives.
The inept Pirates managed to prevent further damage after intermission in all probability because Gilmer began using backups long before the final whistle. In fact, even third-string quarterback Parker Gilow saw playing time after backup QB Mason Hurt relieved Tennison for a while on the visitors’ second possession in the third quarter. (On the opening possession, Hernandez misfired on a 35-yard wide field goal try with 8:46 left in the period.)
Pittsburg had few notable offensive plays against Gilmer’s “Black Flag Defense,” barely averting a whitewashing when quarterback Putt McCain finally got some relief on a largely frustrating night for him by completing a 44-yard heave to Giovanny Rojas, who made a stunning catch in the end zone before missing the PAT kick.
Gilmer began its prolific point parade on Tennison’s 18-yard fling to Dylan Fluellen with 9:18 left in the first quarter. Next, Cody Guidry whizzed seven yards for a TD with 6:54 left in the quarter before Tennison sent a 43-yard TD to Marshae Spraglin with 4:51 still left in the opening quarter.
The Pirates then had a bad snap on an apparent punt attempt and were downed at their 36 yard-line, and soon Hernandez banged a 30-yard field goal with 1:47 still left in the quarter.
Yet the Buckeye Barrage for the initial stanza was not done as a Pirate pratfall led to the next tally. Pittsburg fumbled the kickoff to Gilow at its 15, and on the second play afterward, Tennison dispatched a 16-yard score to Fluellen with 1:13 left in the period.
So much for the theorem attributed to Yogi Berra that “it ain’t over till it’s over” as the Pirates had clearly been sent plummeting to “Davy Jones’ Locker” to stay by this point although a couple of nice runs enabled them to reach the Gilmer 14-yard-line by first period’s end.
But the Gilmer defense snuffed that surge when Davion Smith purloined a Pittsburg pass and returned it to his 23 on the second quarter’s first play, eventually leading to Hernandez’s 32-yard field goal with 7:35 left to the band break. Gilmer’s final TD was Tennison’s 38-yard missile to Luke Watson with 2:18 remaining to music time and it seemed likely the Buckeyes would pad their already ample lead in the final two periods.
Instead, the second half proved largely dull except for those who like defensive struggles until a short Buckeye punt set up Pittsburg’s eleventh-hour TD in a game where Pittsburg ISD did not sell tickets to the general public in Gilmer due to COVID-19, thus limiting attendance to a certain number.
Coach Alan Metzel’s Buckeyes host district foe Liberty-Eylau at 7:30 p.m. Friday.