Gladewater won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. Daylon Mack kicked off to the Gilmer 14. Kris Boyd was dropped for a loss of three on the return back to the Gilmer 14, and Tanner Barr and the offense went to work.
It didn’t take but 1:17 and four plays for the Buckeyes to get into the end zone for the first time. Barr ran for 3 on the first play and Kris Boyd followed that with runs of 10 and 22 yards, and the Bears were called for a 15-yard penalty for a horse collar tackle on his second run, putting the ball down at the visitor’s 39. Barr hit Desmond Pollard on the next play for the TD, and after Pablin Olivares added the extra point, Gilmer led 7-0 with 10:43 still left in the opening quarter.
Olivares kicked into the end zone on the ensuing kickoff and the Bears set up shop on their 25. Justice Centers ran for two on the first play, and then DeMarco Boyd recovered a fumble on the next play to set the offense up in excellent field position at the Bear 25.
Barr moved the offense into the end zone again in just 1:15 and 5 plays. Key play in the drive was an 11-yard pass completion to Chase Tate. One play later Jamel Jackson ran into the end zone from the 1, and after Olivares’ PAT, the Bux led 14-0 with 8:45 left in the first quarter.
The next Olivares kick traveled down to the Gladewater 4 and was returned to the 18. Gilmer was called for a late hit, and the visitors began their second drive at their 33. It looked like it would be a three-and-out, but on an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-three, the Buckeyes were called for a personal foul, and the Bears had new life.
Gladewater held on to the ball for 4:49 and moved the 67 yards into the end zone in nine plays. Centers ran in from the 1 with 4:56 left in the first period, and after Marcello Jackson hit the extra point, the score narrowed to 14-7.
The Buckeyes set up at their 31 after the next kick, and took only four plays and 1:02 to move the 69 yards to pay dirt once again. The score came on a 57-yard pass to Chase Tate. Olivares added the point after and Gilmer led 21-7.
Daylon Gordon returned the next Olivares kick from his 6 out to his 20. The visitors mustered one first down on an off sides call on Gilmer, but on the next series Bear quarterback Nick Canaguier missed the ball on a punt and hit nothing but air, resulting in a Gilmer recovery and a 8-yard loss back to the Bear 33.
It seemed almost certain the Bucks would score again, but on the fifth play of the possession Caleb Williams intercepted Barr in the end zone and Gladewater went back on offense at their 10. They managed one first down and then the Black Flag Defense stiffened and forced another Canaguier punt. The kick travelled 20 yards up to the Bear 48 and Barr and company hit the field again.
This time it took only 53 seconds and four plays for Gilmer to get into the end zone. Tate ran for 17 on the first play, Boyd gained nine on the next, Barr followed that up with a 7-yard gain and then hit Quinn Fluellen from 15 yards out for the score with 5:26 left in the first half of play. Olivares was dead center again on the PAT, and the lead advanced to 28-7.
Gordon advanced the kickoff from his 11 out to his 28, but the Black Flag forced a three-and-out, and after another punt Gilmer was back on offense at the Bear 41. Just four plays and 44 seconds later the Bucks found the end zone yet again. Barr gained 13 on the first play, threw a 15-yard pass to Pollard on the second play, then ran for 20 after a 10-yard holding penalty before hitting Nick Smith from 21 yards out for the score. Olivares hit the extra point and Gilmer led 35-7 with 2:50 left in the first half.
The next kickoff was fumbled by the Bears at their 19 and Dakeilan Nelson recovered the pigskin for the Buckeyes. On the third play of the possession Barr was picked off in the end zone by Daylon Gordon and the Bears got the ball back on their 20. They ran three plays and the half ended.
Gordon returned the second half kickoff from his 6 out to his 22. The visitors picked up one first down, but were forced to punt on the next series. Canaguier’s punt went 37 yards down to the Gilmer 33 and Gilmer was ready to steamroll once again.
It took only one play and 13 seconds before the next TD. Kris Boyd had a beautiful run down the left sideline thanks to a great job of blocking by his offensive line and a couple of nifty moves on his part. Olivares added the extra point and the blowout was on with Gilmer leading 42-7 with 8:33 left in the third quarter.
Olivares put the ball in the end zone once again on the kickoff and the Bears set up shop at their 25. Marcello Jackson broke a 37-yard jaunt on the third play of the possession for Gladewater, but an incomplete pass on fourth down just five plays later ended the drive and Gilmer was back on offense at their 23.
The drive started out well. Kris Boyd ran for 19 and 16 on the first two plays and then Barr completed a 14-yard pass to Smith, but on the next play Clint Sorrells intercepted Barr at his 18 and returned the pick down to the Gilmer 24.
Gladewater returned the favor just three plays later, as Dakeilan Nelson picked off Canaguier at the Gilmer 9, and the Buckeyes set up shop for what would be their final touchdown of the game.
Barr led the offense the 91 yards to the end zone in nine plays that consumed 2:40. There were key runs in the drive by Jamel Jackson, Barr and Darrian Lewis. The score came on a 23-yard pass from Barr to Pollard, and after Olivares hit the PAT, Gilmer led 49-7 with 41.1 seconds left in the third quarter.
Jazten Tyiska returned the kickoff from his 6 to his 16, and the Bears began what would be their second and final scoring drive of the night from that point.
It was a lengthy 12-play drive that took 6:21 off the clock. The score came on a 16-yard pass from Canaguier to James Reese, the workhorse on the drive. Jackson hit the extra point and Gilmer led 49-14 with 6:20 left in the game.
The ensuing kickoff was returned out to the Gilmer 33. Barr moved the offense 55 yards in 12 plays and took 4:19 off the clock before Olivares nailed a 36-yard field goal with 2:01 left in the game, bringing the score to 52-14.
Gordon retuned the kick 11 yards out to his 24 and the Bears ran four plays and ran out the clock to end the contest.
It was a very pleased Head Coach Jeff Traylor we talked with after the big win to open district play against arch-rival Gladewater. “We were very focused, had a great week of practice and the kids were very sharp and they played very well. The offensive line — he (Daylon Mack) destroyed us last year and we obviously played him very well. We blocked, we pass-protected, and our offensive line played much better than last week. Our kids just played well, they really did. We were executing and played with nice tempo and making catches and Tanner made some great throws. We made a bunch of good plays tonight.”
Another big plus for the Buckeyes was they got three of their key injured players back on the field. Defensive leaders Josh of Walker, Ardarius Johnson and Nick Smith were all back on the field for at least part of the game. We asked Coach Traylor how big that was.
“Josh probably got about 20 snaps, Ardarius probably got about 25 snaps and Nick probably got about 18-20 snaps, so we’ll bring them back slowly but we’ll get them back.”
We asked his thoughts about the total dominance of the Black Flag in the game. “They had that one nice drive and they had a nice call on the fourth down pass where they called pass interference on us. Our defense played really well. We blocked well, we tackled well, took care of the ball, and that’s why we won.”
We concluded our interview by asking about the big game on the road against the Chapel Bulldogs this Friday night. “Chapel Hill’s got a lot of talent. They got a lot of natural raw talent and Thomas Sitton is a really good football coach, so this will be a really exciting ball game and there’ll be some really good football players on the field Friday night. You know it is going to be a game of big plays and turnovers. You know, as long as I’ve been here, we win the big plays and the turnover margin, we usually win. If we lose one of those two battles, we usually lose. Turnovers and big plays are always a part of our offense because we’re spread, no-huddle, play fast. Sometimes the ball doesn’t always go in the hole, and we’re playing great defense this year. That’s been a great blessing. When you shoot and it always goes in like tonight, that’s nice, but last Saturday we were shooting and it wasn’t going in, but our defense bailed us out, so that’s always nice.”
Chapel Hill is always very tough at home. They are 3-2 on the season and 1-0 in District 16-3A play after a 49-28 win over Henderson. We encourage all Buckeye fans to make the trip to Tyler, show up early and be loud and proud while you cheer our Buckeyes on toward yet another undefeated District Championship!