By Phillip Williams
‘Twas most likely the most overwhelming Ode to Offense in Gilmer High School football history when two state-ranked behemoths, the Chapel Hill Bulldogs and Gilmer Buckeyes, waged their season=opening wargame Friday night at Gilmer’s Jeff Traylor Stadium.
In a fray where the teams’ free-bleeding defenses were little more efficatious than a wall of marshmallows, Chapel Hill elongated a one-point lead at twirling time into a stupefying strait-jacketing over the potentially potent Buckeyes, 71-53–a battle believed to likely be the highest-scoring game in the more than century-long history of Buckeye football.
It was also the second-highest number of points scored against the Buckeyes in at least the last 65 years, second only to a 72-0 bloodbath wreaked on them in 1977 by Mt. Pleasant. And to make matters more disappointing for the Gilmer constituency, it was the first time in 22 years the Buckeyes lost a season opener.
All of this despite the fact that Coach Alan Metzel’s Buckeyes plastered a mammoth 53 points on a scoreboad whose operator probably had to be treated for exhaustion after having to post 18 touchdowns, which the teams combined to tally.
The 3-hour, 20-minute marathon featured only a handful of punts and turnovers as the team’s offenses simply took touchdown tour after touchdown trek, both doing their damage largely by terra firma rather than airwaves. In the end, the difference was Gilmer’s stunning inability to apprehend the Bulldogs’ nuclear-powered landlubbing attack, featuring runners who made Superman look like a slowpoke.
Gilmer bounded to an early 7-0 lead and trailed only 34-33 at Music Time, only to see Chapel Hill wrest the controls afterward by a 37-20 margin.
Bulldog quarterback Demetrius Brisbon was the chief tormenter of the Buckeyes, hoofing for four TDs and heaving for another to surmount the five-star performance of Buckeye runner Will Henderson, who legged four touchdowns.
Gilmer took the opening kickoff and soon tallied on Henderson’s 11-yard run to the left. Brayden Pate airlifted the PAT with 11:36 left in the first period, meaning Gilmer only took 24 seconds off the clock before bopping into Beulah Land.
Chapel Hill’s rapid-response team, though, scored on its first offensive on Brisbon’s 3-yard hop. Gilmer remained ahead, though, by blocking Alden Campos’ PAT kick with 7:36 left in the initial quarter.
On their next possession, the Bulldogs bewildered the Buckeyes as Brisbon whooshed 60 yards for the next TD. The PAT kick was good with 5:05 still left in the inaugural period.
Undaunted, Gilmer tied it on Alec Sims’ 8-yard trip with 4:20 still to go in that free-swinging first quarter, but Pate’s kick failed, leaving it 13-13.
Chapel Hill then monopolized the momentum for awhile by procuring two TDs before Gilmer scored again.
Jayvin Mayfield steamed four yards with 1:56 left in the quarter, the PAT kick succeeded, and runner Rickey Stewart obtained another TD with 9:43 left to intermission. Campos banged the PAT.
Down 27-13, Gilmer immediately rose from the canvas with a staggering counter-punch. Ta’Erik Tate returned the enusing kickoff 95 yards to Glory Land and Pate’s PAT chopped the Bulldog lead to 27-20 with 9:26 left to Majorette Time.
Then Chapel Hill soon fumbled to the Buckeyes, and the hosts didn’t waste the opportunity to glean benefit from it. Henderson rolled 35 yards on another TD run and Pate’s kick tied it 27-all with 7:09 still left in the second chapter.
The ‘Dogs regained the upper hand on Stewart’s 15-yard TD trot and Mendez’s kick with 6:34 to go before Band Time, but Henderson whistled 19 yards for a TD with 3:51 still left in yet another high-scoring quarter. Pate’s kick failed, leaving Gilmer behind 34-33, and the Buckeyes would never regain the lead despite scoring 20 more points.
The visitors took the second half kickoff and quickly totted up another TD on Jaborian Cook’s 53-yard romp. Mendez’s kick made it 41-33.
In yet another comeback, Gilmer dredged up a tally on quarterback Cadon Tennison’s fourth-down, 1-yard run to the left. But on the conversion, Bulldog Trevor Brooks purloined what was either a pass or pitchout try for two points, and scored two points for his own team instead by returning it all the way to Gilmer’s end zone.
Who knows but what that might have the turning point. Instead of tying the game at 41-all, the Buckeyes found themselves down 43-39. And Chapel Hill would mount three more TDs on the board before Gilmer could intrude into the end zone again.
On the first play after the kickoff which followed Brooks’ befuddling heroics, Brisbon screamed 64 yards to TD Territory, followed by Mendez’s kick with 4:55 left in the third.
Next, Brisbon tossed a 15-yard scoring sling to Cameron Kelley with but 19 seconds left in the third. Mendez added the PAT.
And then Brisbon performed another show-stopper with a 72-yard flight for another TD with 9:17 left in the firefight. Aiden Campos added the PAT this time.
Although almost hopelessly behind, 64=39, the Buckeyes continued to battle and soon reaped six points on Henderson’s 13-yard jaunt with 8:23 left. Pate banged the PAT.
Chapel Hill counter-attacked with its final six-pointer, Jayvin Mayfield’s 4-yard rumble with 7:45 left. The PAT was good.
Gilmer, which had begun the scoring, ended it on Alec Sims’ 1-yard getaway with 4:57 left and Pate’s kick.
Thus had the Buckeyes hit the first cannonade, and the last cannonade. But on this night, it was the Chapel Hill Bulldogs who had the last word.