The win ends Gilmer’s regular season at 9-1 overall and 6-0 in the revamped District 16-3A District of Doom. Previously undefeated Kilgore drops to 8-1 and 5-1 with the loss and will enter the playoffs in Division I of Class 3A next week.
The Buckeyes will play in Division II and open the playoffs as the HOME team at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler this Thursday night when they take on the Canton Eagles, 35-21 losers to Van last Friday night in a game played in Van.
The Buckeyes will doubtless be heavy favorites to win the contest, but as Coach Jeff Traylor warned last Friday after the big win, you can take nothing for granted when the playoffs begin. You MUST take it one game at a time. He pointed to 2005 when Canton thumped the Buckeyes 61-58 at Rose Stadium. Buckeye fans to be show up en masse and be rowdy and loud and vocally display that Gilmer P.R.I.D.E.
Every one of the estimated 6,000 fans in attendance at the game certainly got their money’s worth in what was one of the most high profile games in the State of Texas last Friday night.
The Buckeyes won the coin toss and elected to defer until the second half. Pablin Olivares’ kick was fair caught by Jarod Wood at his 26, and Kilgore went on offense for the first time of the evening. The Bulldogs picked up two first downs before Patrick Finch made a key breakup of a Cooper Coldiron pass on third-and eight, forcing a Bulldog punt that went down to the Gilmer 6.
It was a three-and-out for the Bucks, and on a fourth-and-five, Tanner Barr nailed a 47-yard punt from his 10 down to the Kilgore 43. The Black Flag Defense took over and forced a three-and-out by the ‘Dogs. Hector Peralez punted away to Dylan Bowman at the Gilmer 20 and he was dropped at the 21, setting up the second Gilmer possession on offense.
Both defensive units took control from there, as the ‘Dogs forced a three-and-out. Gilmer returned the favor on the ensuing Kilgore possession. After a Peralez punt, the Bux took back over again at their 16. They managed to pick up one first down, but the Kilgore defense forced a punt on the next series, as the first quarter came to a close without a point on the scoreboard. The punt that ended the quarter was an unbelievable 72-yard kick with the wind by Barr.
The Bulldogs picked up one first down on their next possession, but the Black Flag forced a punt on the next series. Peralez booted a 40-yard kick down to the Gilmer 38 that Bowman returned to the 45.
Barr and his offensive teammates moved the ball 50 yards in 13 plays and took 4:25 off the clock before Olivares split the uprights on a 22-yard field goal with 5:19 left in the first half of play, giving Gilmer a 3-0 lead.
The next kick was fair caught by DaQuavian Brewster at his 36. Coldiron got his offense in high gear quickly. On the first play of the drive, Austin Jordan broke free for 24 yards before Ardarius Johnson made a touchdown-saving tackle at the Gilmer 40. On the next play Kervin Justice blasted into the end zone for a touchdown, capping a quick 2-play, 65-yard drive that took only 21 seconds off the clock. Peralez added the PAT; then Kilgore took what was to be their ONLY lead of the night, 7-3.
DeVondrick Dixon took the next kick six yards deep in the end zone and returned it out to his 33. From there, Barr and company went on a 6-play, 67-yard drive that took exactly 2:00, and took the lead back. After an incomplete pass on first down, Dixon picked up 37 on second down. After another incomplete pass, Josh Walker picked up gains of nine and one before Barr threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Patrick Finch with 2:58 left in the first half. After Olivares added the extra point, Gilmer led 10-7 with 2:58 left in the half.
Olivares executed a perfect onside kick after the score and Gilmer recovered the pigskin at the Kilgore 37. Unfortunately, in an inexcusable mistake in a game with a district championship on the line, one official inadvertently blew his whistle when the Kilgore player signaled for a fair catch, and by rule, the play was dead at that point so the Buckeye recovery was for naught. As it turned out, the mistake didn’t harm the Bucks, as Kilgore went three-and-out once again.
Gilmer took back over at the Bulldog 44 after a 14-yard punt against the wind. Barr led his team on a 7-play, 32 yard drive in just 38 seconds that resulted in Olivares kicking a 29-yard field goal that put Gilmer up 13-7 with 2.3 seconds left in the first half. Key plays in the drive were a 14-yard run by Barr and a 20-yard run by Walker.
The ensuing kick ran out the clock on the first half of play and the teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
Peralez kicked away to the Gilmer 26 to begin the third quarter, and after a 17-yard return the Buckeyes set up at their own 43. The offense picked up one first down in the drive and then Kilgore’s defense came to life and things went south for the Bucks. On the first play of the second series in the drive Tate was dropped for a loss of six. Barr hit him for an 8-yard gain on second down, but on third down Hector Peralez intercepted Barr at the Kilgore 20.
Fortunately, the Black Flag rose to the occasion and forced yet another three-and-out by the ‘Dogs. After a 37-yard Peralez punt, Gilmer set up on their 36 and began what would be their final scoring drive of the night.
Tate broke free for a scamper of 14 on the first play. Dixon then blasted around the left side of the line and appeared to be headed to the goalline, but had the ball punched out and it went out of bounds near the goal line. By rule, since Dixon didn’t recover the pigskin, the ball was moved back where the fumble occurred, at the Kilgore 12. From there Walker picked up seven on first down and Jamel Jackson ran into the end zone from the 5 with 6:41 left in the third quarter, capping a 4-play, 64-yard drive that consumed 1:04. After Olivares added the point after, Gilmer led 20-7 and seemed to be in total control of the game.
Both teams went three-and-out on their next possessions, and after a 15-yard Peralez punt against a gusting 30 mph wind, Gilmer was in business at the Kilgore 36. In their best defensive stance of the night, Kilgore held the Bucks on fourth down. They were flagged for a personal foul, but it was a dead-ball foul after the play, so after the mark off, the Bulldogs were back in business at their 13.
In the longest drive of the night by either team, the visitors moved the 87 yards to the end zone in 8 plays and took 3:04 off the clock, scoring on a 2-yard Coldiron pass with 5.8 seconds left in the third quarter. Key plays in the drive were a 30-yard run by Coldiron on the first play of the drive and a 37-yard run by Benny Colbert on the play just prior to the score. After Peralez hit the extra point, Kilgore had pulled to within six, 20-14.
Everyone in attendance knew it would be interesting in the final quarter, as the Buckeyes had to go against the gusting wind. Fired up after closing the deficit on the scoreboard, Kilgore’s defensive until forced a three-and-out, giving up only one yard in three plays. Punting against the same gusting wind that had plagued Kilgore in the previous quarter, Barr’s punt travelled only 15 yards, going out of bounds at the ‘Dog 46.
The visitors picked up two first downs in the drive and ran nine plays before punting from the Gilmer 42 down to the 4. Knowing they could ill afford to go three-and-out again, the offense rose to the occasion when Barr hit Dixon for a gain of 28 and a first down on a 3rd-and-11. Kilgore stiffened from there and Barr managed to get off a 28-yard punt with a good roll, despite the stiff wind. The kick was downed by the Gilmer special teams at the Bulldog 34.
The game became a nail-biter for fans of both teams at that point. Kilgore held the ball for 11 plays and moved 61 yards in 3:45 before Dylan Bowman broke up a fourth down pass in the end zone that turned the ball over to Gilmer on downs with 41.6 seconds left in the game.
Barr went took a knee at the 4 and the clock ran out before the offense had to run another play, securing the huge 20-14 win.
We had a chance to talk with Defensive Coordinator Coach Todd Barr after the victory and asked him if he would agree that the Black Flag had their best performance of the year in the game. “Oh yeah, absolutely. You know, we didn’t play very well in Bullard last week; well some of the kids did but some didn’t. Part of it was definitely Bullard and what they were doing, but we didn’t have our heads in the game last week. The kids came to practice this week prepared and they worked hard. They wanted to show what they could accomplish.”
To say that Coach Jeff Traylor was ecstatic about the Black Flag Defense, as well as his team’s play overall after the big victory would be an understatement. “Our defense took exception to how everybody talked about Kilgore’s defense, you know, and we had a great work week. We were embarrassed with our performance against Bullard and the kids just took a great plan from Coach (Todd) Barr and the defensive staff did a great job and the kids executed it. I’m really happy for them. This is one of them (biggest wins in the program). Those first eight or nine championships we won, we were better than 90 percent of those teams, but lately, to beat the people we’ve beat week in and week out, in kind of a down cycle for us right now; our seniors just don’t want to hear that. They don’t care how big they are and how slow they are, they just believe in the coaches and the program and they just keep finding ways to get it done. I couldn’t be more proud of my kids.”
The first thing that came to mind in the WAY the game ended was a flashback to the Cuero game in the Class 3A Division I Semifinals in 2009. We asked the coach if he had thought the same thing. “I totally agree. Just when you think it’s over and momentum’s changed, you know, I told my coaches on the headphones ‘we need a Cuero right now.’ Our kids and our coaches found a way. These kids just don’t ever quit. They never have and they never will.”
We asked the Buckeye boss how he felt about his troops’ chances to go deep into the playoffs. “I think we have to be careful, and it is ironic we’re playing Canton. In ’05 we won a game we probably shouldn’t have against Daingerfield in Mount Pleasant and our community was thrilled because Daingerfield had already beaten us earlier, and we really played incredible in Mount Pleasant, and then we went over there and laid an egg in Tyler. We’ve got to be careful; we want to enjoy tonight, but you’ve got to get to work on Canton. I’m going to try to find G.J. Kinne and see if he’ll come talk to my team before the game to remind them of just how painful that was. We’re going to eat at the same restaurant, we’re going to wear the same color uniforms (black), and we’re going to try to get that demon off of us.”
The Buckeyes lost the night flip (Canton wanted Thursday night), but won the jersey flip (meaning Gilmer is the HOME team for the game).
We asked his thoughts about the 8-2 Canton team his charges will face Thursday night. “They’re 8-2, and we have not blown anybody out. We beat one team bad the entire season. Don’t anybody even go there. We’ve won every game we’ve won barely. We’re not that team (to blow anybody out in the playoffs.) We’re a team that works and scratches and fights so don’t even go there. You’d better be ready to go; our fans better show up. If they think there’s going to be another week, there won’t be one. I’m dead serious. You’ve got to understand the psychology of all that. With all the people telling my kids we’re going to blow them out, we’re not going to show up. You’ve got to take this thing one week at a time, or it’ll be done, just like it was in ’05.”
Buckeye fans DID show up well at Buckeye Stadium last Friday, BUT there have been some games on the road this year when the Army of Buckeyes was nowhere near what it needs to be. IF you are a TRUE BUCKEYE, make sure to find a way to make it to Tyler tomorrow night, and be prepared to travel wherever necessary as long as the Bucks are still playing. This group of young men are over-achievers. They have played their hearts out and left it all on the field every game this season, not only out of personal pride in what it means to be a Buckeye, but also to reward all Buckeye fans for their loyalty to the program. This is no time to fail to show up for a game. We will all know if you fail to show up, and you’ll definitely hear about it! We’ll see ALL of you Thursday night at the Rose. GO BUCKS!!!