By Phillip Williams
TEXARKANA–Long afore the Gilmer-Pleasant Grove wargame for the District 8-4A blue ribbon lumbered to its conclusion Friday night, it resembled a second-round boxing knockout far more than a heavyweight happening between two teams which both boasted 4-0 records in district dustups.
Runner Ashton Haynes tallied three TDs as Gilmer’s cyclonic offense totted up a 41-14 lead at twirling time en route to procuring pandemonium for the Pleasant Grove Hawks, 55-14, at Hawk Stadium.
The comforting tidings for the Hawks (5-5) is that, despite this debacle, they still enter Playoff Paradise, as do the Buckeyes (9-1). If the Pleasant Grove contingent intends to last past the first round, however, it better hope it doesn’t run into a team that is the gridiron equivalent of a wood chipper, as Gilmer was Friday evening.
The Buckeyes, whose Black Flag Defense also inflicted irritance on the Hawks, scored on their first five possessions as the team looked sharper than a bevy of butcher knives. While Gilmer punted only once all night and committed no turnovers, the Hawks plagued themselves with ailments ranging from giveaways to dropped passes.
Gilmer took the opening kickoff and soon scored when Haynes hoofed 11 yards. Jose Hernandez airifted the first of his seven successful PATs (he missed only the one after the Buckeyes’ sixth TD) with 10:53.2 left in the first quarter.
Keith Rockwell bopped one yard for Gilmer’s next TD with 6:11.1 remaining in the quarter before the Hawks momentarily climbed off the canvas to score on freshman quarterback Jarret Halter’s 3-yard toss to Davion Stewart with 2:28.6 left in the inaugural period. Enrique Rios clanged the first of his two PAT kicks.
Thus it was 14-7. Just when it appeared this might develop into a close contest, though, Gilmer thundered to 21 more points before the hosts could reap their only other TD of the evening.
And after the Hawks secured their second score, the Buckeyes cold-cocked them with 20 unanswered points.
Gilmer soon counter-punched after Pleasant Grove’s opening six-pointer. Haynes hastened 12 yards to Beulah Land with 37.2 seconds still to go in the first quadrant. Then he hopped 15 yards for yet another TD with 11:03.3 left to intermission.
Rockwell tripped one yard for his second TD with 7:03.6 left to Music Time before the Hawks heaved their Last Huzzah as Jaylen Boardley zipped a 4-yard halfback option pass to Lance Jackson with 2:12.2 still remaining in the second quarter.
If there is such a thing as a turning point in a game decided by 41 points, it likely came right after the Hawks finally halted Gilmer’s offense on downs at the hosts’ 26 late in the half.
On the very next play, Pleasant Grove runner JoJo Bailey disgorged a fumble, giving the pigskin right back to the visitors at the 26. On the second play afterward, Gilmer quarterback Brandon Tennison dispatched an 11-yard scoring sling to Rohan Fluellen with 15.6 seconds left till the break.
The Buckeyes wrapped up giving the scoreboard a workout as Ladaylon Jackson whizzed eight yards to tally with 8:05.5 left in the third period, and Michael Colbert shot 28 yards to Glory Land with 10:33.1 remaining in the fray.