The Area opponent will be the Atlanta Rabbits (5-6), who qualified for the game with a 72-32 rout of the Wills Point Tigers Friday night at Lobo Stadium.
Coach Jeff Traylor was glad to see his team get the victory, but was a bit disappointed with the team’s overall play in the contest. “Yeah we did (win the game), but we didn’t protect the ball very well. We didn’t play well. We didn’t have a very good week of practice; I don’t know if you’d say we were hung over from the Kilgore deal, but we just did not play well. We’ll be done next week if we don’t play better than that. We won’t beat (next week’s opponent).”
We asked Coach Traylor if Canton did anything different than they had anticipated. “No, we just dropped the ball. We couldn’t hold onto the football. It was just us. You know, you’ve got to be happy. I’ve done this long enough that I’d rather play bad and win than I would play good and lose, so we played bad and we won, so we’re going to be happy, even though we’re not very pleased with our performance.”
Gilmer led 51-22 going into the fourth quarter. Canton made the game look closer than it really was by capitalizing on two miscues to outscore the Bucks 14-0 in the final period. Fortunately, the Buckeye offense had done such a great job of shreading the porous Eagle defense in the first two quarters; the game’s outcome was never in question after the end of the first half, which had Gilmer up by 22 points, 36-14.
Gilmer won the coin toss and elected to receive to begin the game. Chase Tate took Scott Munroe’s kick at his 17 and returned it out to the 35 where the Bux set up shop for the first time offensively.
Tanner Barr led the offense on a 9-play, 65-yard drive that consumed 4:24 of the first quarter and led to the first score of the night. Key plays in the drive were a 24-yard pass from Barr to Kris Boyd on a third-and-twenty, a 12-yard pass from Barr to Tate and the touchdown, which came on a 21-yard pass from Barr to Jaidon Parrish. After a 5-yard penalty on the PAT kick for a false start, Pablin Olivares hit the kick and Gilmer led 7-0 with 7:36 left in the first quarter.
Kade Warren returned the ensuing kick from his 9 out to his 35, but Canton was called for an illegal block in the back on the return, so the Eagles began their first drive at their 21. It took only 6 plays and 2:06 for them to move the 89 yards into the end zone. Key plays were a 14-yard pass from Chandler Eiland to Colton Williams and a 57-yard pass from Chandler Eiland his brother Conner Eiland. The score came on the next play when Reese Sumner ran into the end zone from the 6. Monroe’s point after was good and the game was tied 7-7.
It didn’t take the Buckeyes long to respond, as they moved 55 yards in four plays and only used 1:31 off the clock to find the end zone for the second time. Brandon Barnes had a nice 20-yard kickoff return out to the Gilmer 45 to begin the drive. Tate gained 15 on a pass from Barr on the first play and then Barr rushed for gains of 29 and seven on the next two plays before Jamel Jackson ran in from the 4 with 3:59 left in the opening quarter. Olivares added the extra point and Gilmer took a lead they would never relinquish the rest of the night, 14-7.
The Black Flag Defense forced a three-and-out on the next Canton possession, and after a short 16-yard punt by Kade Warren, Gilmer was back in business at their 47. Barr led the offense on a 7-play, 53-yard drive that took 2:50. Kris Boyd finished off the drive with a 1-yard scoring run with four seconds left in the first quarter. The drive was aided by a 15-yard face mask penalty on Canton and a 19-yard run by Barr. Olivares was good on the point-after and the Bucks were up 21-7.
The Black Flag forced another three-and-out on the next Eagle possession, and after a 32-yard punt by Warren, Gilmer set up on offense at their 30. It appeared that another touchdown was almost certain, as the offense ground 4:58 off the clock and moved 61 yards in 11 plays, but the last play resulted in a Jamel Jackson fumble and Canton took back over on their 9.
Eiland led his team to one first down on the possession, but they picked up only six yards the next series and Warren was forced to punt again. He nailed a 45-yard kick and the Buckeyes set up on their 30. It took only four plays for Barr to lead his team into the end zone yet again. He ran for 19 on the first play, threw incomplete on the second, Josh Walker then ran for two yards on the third play and then Barr hit Slade Morris in stride behind the defense on a 49-yard scoring pass with 2:11 left in the first half. Walker ran in the 2-point conversion out of the swinging gate formation, and Gilmer held a commanding 29-7 lead.
The pesky Eagles refused to accept their fate, coming right back with a 3-play, 62-yard score of their own that took only 32 seconds off the clock. Connor Eiland started things off with a return of Olivares kick from his 11 all the way up to his 38. His brother Chandler threw incomplete on first down, but Colton Williams gained eight on second down. On third down Dakota Hesskew found the end zone from 54 yards out with 1:37 left in the half. Munroe booted the PAT, and Canton closed the gap to 29-14.
DeVondrick Dixon set his offensive friends up with a chance to get the score back before the half with a return from the Gilmer 14 all the way down to the Canton 45. In an example of perfect clock management, Barr led his team on a 7-play scoring drive that took 1:15. Parrish had two big pass receptions of 19 and 13 yards from Barr, and Barr finished things off with just 10 seconds left in the half with an 8-yard TD pass to Patrick Finch. Olivares’ point-after was good, and Gilmer had a 36-14 advantage. After the kick return, the Eagles ran one play and the first half came to a close.
Olivares kicked away to the Canton 19 to begin the second half and Warrant returned the ball out to his 32. Thanks to a fumble by Hesskew that lost 15, the Eagles had only one series before pressure from the Buckeye special teams forced a rushed kick by Warren that travelled only 19 yards and set the Bucks up in excellent field position at the Canton 20.
This time it took 2:12 and five plays for the offense to get the ball in the end zone. Jackson had a beautiful 25-yard scamper, but it was nullified by a holding call. That didn’t deter the offense, as they picked up 25 on the next play on a pass from Barr to Kris Boyd. Two plays later Tate ran into the end zone from 13 yards out, and after Olivares split the uprights again, the lead was 43-14.
Unfortunately, the special teams gave up a big play on the ensuing kick by Olivares. Reece Sumner took the kick at his 15 and didn’t stop running until he had moved the 85 yards into the end zone for an Eagle TD. Sumner also ran in a 2-point conversion, and he and his teammates felt they still had life, down 43-22. The return took only 14 seconds.
Determined to make amends after the previous play, Parrish took the next kick at the Gilmer 20 and returned it out to the 44. Barr led the offense on a 9-play, 56-yard TD drive that took 2:01 off the clock. The score came on a 24-yard run by Walker. For the second time in the game Walker got into the end zone for a 2-point conversion out of the swinging gate formation, and Gilmer led 51-22 with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
Olivares’ pooch kick was fair caught by Bret Branson at his 35, and Canton was back on offense. Eiland led his team to one first down, but the Black Flag shut the door and forced a punt on the next series. After a Warren punt to the Gilmer 38, the offense hit the field again.
The Buckeyes picked up gains of nine and three on runs by Barr and Walker to begin the drive. Barr then threw to Finch for a gain of 31 on the next play before a Gilmer fumble was recovered by Connor Robison at his 30. The Canton offense was unable to pick up a single yard, and after a Warren punt of 45 yards Gilmer was back on offense at their 30.
On the first play Barr was intercepted by Colton Williams at the Canton 42 and the Eagles were ready to fly again. They took 4:31 off the clock and moved the 58 yards in eight plays, finding the end zone with 6:55 left in the game on an 18-yard pass from Chandler Eiland to his older brother Connor. The extra point was wide right and the score was 51-28.
Knowing time was their enemy, the Eagles kicked onside. Ardarius Johnson covered the ball at the Gilmer 48. The offense picked up two first downs in just three plays, but Jackson lost the handle on the ball and Marquise Harris recovered for Canton at their 21.
Eiland led his team down the field for 17 plays and 3:14 before finding his older brother for another TD pass from seven yards out with 2:16 left in the game. Sumner ran in for the 2-point conversion, and the lead was down to 51-36.
The Eagles kicked onside again and Parrish recovered the ball at his 45. Walker picked up a first down on runs of five and six yards, and Jackson picked up four before Barr went into a victory formation kneel down to end the game.
Buckeye fans did a fantastic job of turning out for the game. Make sure to make the short drive back to Lobo Stadium next Friday night and support your Gilmer Buckeyes!