By Phillip Williams
VAN–The Van Vandals were not just vexed Friday night; a certain hot-footed Gilmer Buckeyes running back exhibited an enfeebling endeavor that ensured the vamoosed Vandals were Bushed.
Darrell Bush bounded for three touchdowns as state-ranked Gilmer vanquished Van, 41-21, on Mal Fowler Field at Van Memorial Stadium.
Bush’s bravo of an act overshadowed a praiseworthy performance by Van quarterback Jayton Moffatt (son of head coach Jared Moffatt), who heaved two TDs and hoofed for another.
Gilmer (2-0) detonated the dam early, taking the opening kickoff and hiking 66 yards to tally on Bush’s 1-yard zip up the middle. Dominic Chavez airlifted the PAT with 10:21 left in the first quarter.
However, the Vandals (1-1) promptly counter-attacked by whistling 87 yards, the great majority of it on Moffatt’s airmails, to score on his 1-yard dash from the shotgun. Sam Hartman banged the first of his three PATs with 7:04 remaining in the first.
But the Buckeyes sent another salvo onto the scoreboard as Bush concluded their next possession with a 20-yard TD thrust, again up the middle.
Chavez’s kick was wide with 5:18 left in the starting quarter, but Buckeye Bush was definitely not bushed as he rumbled five yards for his final tally with 5:43 left to Twirling Time–a score set up by Brycen Jimmerson’s purloining a pass from Moffatt in Gilmer territory. After the TD, a different kicker, Jose Hernandez, clanged the first of four consecutive PATs, making it 20-7.
Then transpired a bizarre play that must have made the Vandal partisans suddenly develop indigestion. On a long kickoff, not designed as an onside kick, Van mysteriously failed to touch the pigskin, allowing Gilmer to recover at the hosts’ 10.
On the third play afterward, Gilmer quarterback Mason Hurt feigned a handoff and whipped three yards into Beulah Land with 4:42 remaining before music time. Thus, in a span of only 1:01, the visitors had lenghened their lead from six points to 20.
But the Vandals were not ready to be pronounced kaput as they immediately trooped 56 yards to procure points on another Van volley, Moffatt’s 7-yard TD throw to Javonta Thomas with 3:43 still left in the half.
However, the Buckeyes would hoist the wargame somewhat out of their adversaries’ reach with two third-quarter touchdowns. After kicking off and forcing a Van punt to begin the half, the visitors promptly plodded 83 yards, having to surmount several penalties, to secure six points when runner Davion Smith whizzed 25 yards with 6:57 remaining in the third quarter.
After another Van punt, Hurt injured the Vandals’ feelings with an 18-yard scoring sling to Malik Williams with 4:14 left in the third, writing finis to a 74-yard offensive.
Van valiantly would not be quelled with quietude, continuing to fire as Moffatt flung a 10-yard TD to Thomas with 6:13 left in the confrontation. Gilmer hogged the pigskin the rest of the way, and hosts Paris at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Jeff Traylor Stadium.