By Phillip Williams
LONGVIEW–In the old Pink Panther movies of yesteryear, Inspector Jacques Clouseau bungled his way through his probes of crimes, and the Spring Hill Panthers seemed to emulate him by permitting a plethora of Gilmer Buckeyes to tally touchdowns against them en route to a 56-15 triumph in the squadrons’ District 8 4-A Division II opener Friday night at Panther Stadium.
Gilmer (5-1), rejuvenated after suffering its first pratfall of the season two weeks earlier to top-ranked Carthage, dispatched seven players across the goal line in a classic “spread-the-wealth” performance. Quarterback Brandon Tennison tossed two TDs for the victors’ first scores, while runner Michael Colbert was the only Buckeye to procure more than one touchdown as he ingested two.
Gilmer leaped ahead 21-0 before the midway point of the second quarter. After Spring Hill (3-3) clipped that to 21-7, the Buckeyes proceeded to tot up a 28-7 lead at twirling time.
Before the hosts scored their second (and final) TD, both of which came on flings from quarterback Jax Stovall to able receiver Brennan Ferguson, the Buckeyes had boosted the count to 49-7.
Gilmer first scored on Tennison’s 20-yard heave to Rohan Fluellen. Jose Hernandez airlifted the first of four straight successful PATs with 6:02 left in the first period.
Tennison then air mailed a 23-yard tally to Kendall Jackson with 3:15 remaining in the first before Ashton Haynes trod two yards to tally with 8:42 left to intermission.
Spring Hill briefly got back in the wargame as Stovall lofted a 22-yarder to Ferguson with 6:42 left to music time, and Ashton Thomas clanged the PAT. Gilmer, however, counter-punched with Colbert’s 9-yard rumble with 5:26 still remaining to the break.
The bleachers collapsed on the Panthers in the third quarter as the Buckeyes at one point unleashed two TDs within 11 seconds.
First, though, Gilmer’s Ladaylon Jackson screamed 47 yards to Beulah Land within the half’s opening minute. Gilmer botched the conversion kick try, but Spring Hill was penalized on the play, thus allowing Tennison to slip a 2-point pass to Fluellen with 11:03 left in the period.
Soon came the two quick TDs. After Keith Rockwell scooted a yard for the first one, and Hernandez notched the PAT with 3:19 left in the quarter, the Panthers fumbled away the ensuing kickoff. Gilmer backup quarterback Cadon Tennison (the starter’s brother) rolled 23 yards with 3:08 to go in the period, and backup kicker Weston Mayhan’s PAT try failed.
The Panthers valiantly kept flailing away as Stovall soon found Ferguson from 41 yards out, and Devaunte Powers trod for the two-point conversion with 2:14 still left in the wild third period.
Colbert then hoofed nine yards for the game’s last six-pointer with 11:21 left. Omero Orona slammed the PAT.
Gilmer’s 56 points were the most the Buckeyes have scored in a game this season, although the team had scored between 42 and 50 against all its other opponents other than Carthage, who bonked the Buckeyes 28-7.
Gilmer hosts district adversary Pittsburg Friday night.