By Phillip Williams
In what was presumably the highest-scoring game in Gilmer school history, the Gilmer Buckeyes hoisted a Homecoming Hurrah as they plundered a team from a new Prosper ISD high school, the Walnut Grove Wildcats, by a stultifying score, 82-62, at Jeff Traylor Stadium on Friday night.
Amazingly, despite giving up nine touchdowns, the free-bleeding Gilmer “black flag defense” actually helped save the day by confiscating four second-half takeaways–three of which eventually led to touchdowns, and atoned for allowing the Wildcat offense to largely bludgeon the Buckeye defenders.
All this against a school so brand-new, it probably hasn’t even had time to expel anybody yet.
The teams’ combined 144 points eclipsed the recently-established likely Gilmer record for most points in a single game. It had been established only four weeks earlier when the Buckeyes opened the season by being chomped by the Chapel Hill Bulldogs, 71-53.
While bedazzling, however, Gilmer’s 82 was not the most points the Buckeyes alone have ever produced in a contest.
The number of individual stars in this frantic fray–featuring a flabbergasting 21 touchdowns–was nearly as innumerable as the number of twinklers in the night sky, as the teams staged one of the most memorable contests in Gilmer’s long gridiron history, and Walnut Grove’s brief one.
In a losing effort, Walnut Grove QB Braden Butler heaved a stupefying seven TD throws and hoofed for another score. Teammate Cameron Newton received three of those passes and tramped for another TD.
On the winning side, QB Cadon Tennison threw four TDs and trekked for another, runner Will Henderson legged four touchdowns, and Ta’Erik Tate had three TD receptions while returning an onside kick, of all things, for a tally.
With its third consecutive vanquishing–the first in which the outcome didn’t go to the final play–the Buckeyes climbed to 3-2. Walnut Grove, meantime, drooped to 1-4 with its fourth straight downfall.
Gilmer posted the initial scoring salvo after the Wildcats opened the festivities with an unsuccessful onside kick. The Buckeyes then steamed 68 yards in nine plays, reaching Beulah Land when Brendan Webb screamed 15 yards to the left, and Brayden Pate airlifted the first of six straight successful PATs with 9:06 left in the opening period.
The visitors promptly counter-attacked on their opening offensive as Butler shot a 31-yard scoring sling to John Hutson, and Dominic Sciano plunked the first of five straight PATs with 8:15 left in the quarter.
These opening possessions by the two teams were indicators of the massive scoring that was to come.
Gimer regained the lead on Tennison’s 43-yard TD throw to Webb with 7:57 still remaining in the initial period. And Tennison displayed his nuclear arm next with a 37-yard tallying toss to Ta’Erik Tate with 1:41 still to go in the furious first.
With time expired in the period, though, Butler dispatched a 9-yard TD to Cameron Newton and the PAT sliced Gilmer’s lead to 21-14.
The Buckeyes, however, would lengthen their lead to 21 as Tennison tripped 11 yards to glory with 10:29 left to Twirling Time afore he zoomed a 34-yard TD to Tate with 6:26 left to intermission.
Now in danger of being routed, Walnut Grove rebounded to close within seven points and “the Butler did it,” flinging TDs of seven yards to Luke Watkins with 5:08 left to the break, and a 35-yard long-distance shot put to Hutson with 2:38 remaining to Music Time.
But the offenses continued running amok in the quarter as Henderson, who was later injured, wheeled 44 yards to the right on a fourth-down rush to tally with 1:51 left before Newton whooshed 10 yards to score the half’s final TD only 40 seconds left.
Thus did the Buckeyes haul a 42-35 advantage to the locker room, but the squads’ scoring addiction was far from concluded.
On the third play after the second-half kickoff, the Gilmer defense seized the first of the game-turning turnovers–a fumble at the Walnut Grove 45. And on the fourth play afterward, Henderson hustled 38 yards to the right to score before Pate’s PAT went wide with 10:19 left in the third.
Up 48-35, the hosts’ generally free-bleeding defense pulled off another feat when a Prosper runner made a spectacular 62-yard tour, only to disgorge a fumble to the Buckeyes at the end of the play at the Gilmer 31.
Gilmer kept the ball quite awhile on the ensuing scoring offensive with Henderson zipping the final five yards with 2:13 left in the third (Pate upped the PAT). And when Webb purloined a pass by Butler on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, returning it to the Wildcat 18, Gilmer soon ran the lead up to 61-35 on Henderson’s 11-yard rip.
A bad snap prevented the PAT being kicked with 57 seconds left in the third, and Gilmer seemingly had the contest wrapped with a bow on top by having such a mountainous lead. But the Wildcats were far from through with displaying their prowess on offense.
Butler hiked six yards to score with 11:37 left in the contest; aping Gilmer, the visitors couldn’t kick the PAT due to a bad snap. But after awhile, Butler unleashed another of his many TD air mail packages, a 15-yarder to Newton, and Sciano pummeled the first of three straight successful PATs with 6:30 left.
Suddenly, Gilmer only led 61-48, but toted up three TDs to Walnut Grove’s two in the game’s frenzied final six and a half minutes.
First, Tennison shot a 39-yard bomb to Tate with 5:55 left and Daydrion Jimmerson ran over a 2-point conversion.
Butler, though, counter-attacked with a 35-yard TD pass to Luke Watkins with 3:49 left–only to see Tate snatch up the visitors’ ensuing onside kick and charge 50 yards to TD territory with 3:42 left before Pate kicked wide.
Yet, the new team from Prosper ISD continued to counter as Butler blew a 45-yard TD to Newton with 3:11 left, making it 75-62 after the PAT.
The Wildcats still had a chance and by this time, Henderson, by far Gilmer’s main rushing back, was out injured.
But the Buckeyes rode the legs of little-used runner Dhrvay Smith in pounding toward their final TD, his 37-yard flight with 1:54 left before Pate’s kick worked. In the game’s dying moments, the Gilmer defense claimed its final takeaway when Colby McDonald intercepted Butler’s final pass.
And the overworked scoreboard operator for the 3-hour, 24-minute scorefest probably breathed a sigh of relief, and went home to apply liniment to his or her aching fingers.