By Phillip Williams
LINDALE–The Gilmer Buckeyes discovered to the disconcertion of the crestfallen Canton Eagles that Friday the 13th is no ominous occasion when you’ve got a Number 14 on your roster like Dylan Fluellen.
Turning Canton’s stupefied secondary into the gridiron equivalent of burned bon-bons, Gilmer quarterback Brandon Tennison flung five first-half touchdown throws–three of them to Fluellen–as Gilmer cashiered Canton, 54-21, in a Class 4A Division II bi-district dustup Friday night at Eagle Stadium.
The Gilmer defense also secured a starring role in the outcome, returning two purloined errant Eagle passes from Canton quarterback Jason Brisbois for TDs as the Buckeyes toted up a 54-7 lead at twirling time. Tennison didn’t play thereafter and officials ran the clock much of the second half, completing the 24 minutes of playing time in only 36 minutes.
The top-heavy triumph sent Coach Alan Metzel’s Buckeyes (10-1) into the second round of Playoff Paradise this Thursday, when they wage war with the Godley Wildcats (7-4) at 7 p.m. at Mesquite’s Hanby Stadium
Gilmer mercifully used reserves much if not all of the second half Friday, when Canton managed to ante up two TDs that made the final score appear a bit less migraine-inducing to Eagle supporters. It was the sixth game this season in which the Buckeyes ponied up more than 50 points.
Gilmer’s initial scoring salvo came when Jared Ward bopped two yards on the Buckeyes’ opening offensive with 8:03 left in the opening quarter. Kicker Jose Hernandez airlifted the first of his six successful PATs (he would miss the ones after Gilmer’s sixth and seventh touchdowns).
Next, Tennison unleashed an 85-yard rocket to Fluellen with 3:11 left in the first period before Canton momentarily rallied on Brisbois’ 11-yard TD toss to Ja’Braylon Pickens. Nathan Goodson banged the first of his three PATs with 1:39 remaining in the initial quarter, paring Gilmer’s lead to a mere 14-7.
The revival was swiftly snuffed, however, as Tennison started back up the Buckeye tsunami of touchdowns by heaving a 34-yarder to Fluellen despite double coverage. That came with 48 seconds still left in the inaugural period.
On Gilmer’s next possession, that duo delivered another dandy, a 39-yard tally with 11:09 left to intermission.
On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Buckeye Davion Smith filched Brisbois’ throw and whizzed 50 yards to Beulah Land with 10:48 left to the break. Then Tennison resumed his aviational ability by heaving a 61-yard tally to Mason Hurt with 8:01 remaining to Music Time.
Dylan Fluellen’s brother, defender Rohan Fluellen, soon stole a sling from Brisbois and roared 57 yards for a “pick-six” with 6:43 still left in the half. Then Tennison hurled Hurt a 45-yard six-pack of points with 2:55 yet to go afore the last PAT mercifully ended Gilmer’s plethora of points.
Canton commendably toiled on for limited reward, tallying on Brisbois’ 2-yard pass to Cade Goodson with 5:42 left in the game before Eagle defender Kale Shaw scooped up a fumble by Buckeye backup Chris Guillen and screamed 40 yards for a TD with 4:13 remaining.
However, this amounted to winning battles after the war itself was lost for on this night, it was the Buckeyes rather than the Eagles who had soared. Canton was simply left sore.