By Phillip Williams
PARIS–The Gilmer Buckeyes had forsaken the East Texas Yamboree carnival back home, but it was their adversary, the North Lamar Panthers, who went south and got taken for a ride as unvanquished Gilmer nettled North Lamar, 42-6, in their slightly strange District 7-4A Division II dustup Friday night.
Gilmer tripped to a 29-0 lead at twirling time and played reserves much of the second half against an obviously inferior opponent which entered the ring with a so-so 3-4 record. Coach Alan Metzel’s Buckeyes, who are playing only a 9-game regular-season schedule after advancing to the state championship duel the past two seasons, advanced to 7-0.
Friday night’s confrontation was an unusual contest in several aspects. First, it was played on a natural grass field–a seeming rarity nowdays when even small schools have artificial turf. Second, North Lamar threw only one one pass in the entire game. Third, the only two turnovers all night were committed by the team that won 42-6. And fourth, the game officials called so many penalties–mostly against Gilmer–that it looked like they thought they were getting paid by the flag.
If that ain’t a trifle odd, neither was “The Twilight Zone.”
Faster-than-a-scalded jackrabbit Gilmer runner Will Henderson hastened for two TDs as the Buckeyes spread the scoring wealth with four other players tallying touchdowns, all by hoofing. While Gilmer’s running attack produced points, North Lamar’s landlubbing offense proved largely a case of vain repetitions as time and again, the Buckeyes’ “Black Flag Defense” stuffed it like a Thanksgiving turkey.
Gilmer tallied on its first three possessions and held the Panthers without a first down on the hosts’ first three before the opening turnover, which galvanized the North Lamar offense enough to drive to the Buckeye 1-yard-line–only to falter in a goal line stand. Gilmer would be up 35-0 before the Panthers could locate the end zone.
The Buckeyes took the opening kickoff and moseyed 59 yards (actually 66, since they got penalized on the game’s first play) to tally on Henderson’s 4-yard hike with 9:59 left in the first quarter. Jose Govea airlifted the PAT.
On its next offensive foray, Gilmer hit the jackpot again as Rohan Fluellen whooshed 28 yards and Aron Bell legged a 2-point conversion with 5:10 left in the opening quadrant.
Henderson strode three yards for the next TD and Govea boomed the PAT with 2:53 still left in the first quarter, and it began to look like the Buckeyes might cause the scoreboard to collapse from overwork. On its next possession, though, Gilmer made a rare miscue that, for a time, turned the tide after the Buckeyes had leaped ahead 22-0.
Quarterback Cade Tennison fumbled the snap in the shotgun formation, and North Lamar recovered at its own 48. The dead-as-a-rock Panther running game suddenly sprang to life as the hosts embarked on an elongated offensive that ended with an unsuccessful fourth-down run from the Buckeye 1.
Inspired, Gilmer, overcoming three penalties along the route, promptly trooped nearly the length of the field to tot up another TD on Ke’Vion Brinkley’s 1-yard hop. Govea banged the PAT with 1:22 left to intermission.
Bell hustled three yards for Gilmer’s next score (a bad snap to the holder prevented the PAT from being kicked) with 3:40 left in the third quarter. Then the Panthers finally perked up enough to post their lone TD on Quay Mason’s 2-yard movement with 4:53 remaining in the game.
Gilmer had one last gleam of glory, though, as Alec Sims sped 22 yards around the left side with just 46.9 seconds left, and backup kicker Omero Orona banged the PAT.