Fast Start Ignites Gilmer’s 64-25 Rout Of Atlanta, Sending Buckeyes To 4A Division II Semis
LONGVIEW -- The going was good for Gilmer. So good that its only turnover of the night resulted in Buckeye points.
Gilmer quarterback McLane Carter threw just his second interception all season late in the first half of the Buckeyes' 64-25 rout of Atlanta, but a strip during the return and subsequent scoop and score by receiver Blake Lynch put an exclamation point on a 50-point first half that propelled Gilmer to just one win from playing for a state title.
The Buckeyes (14-0) will meet Celina (12-2) in a Class 4A Division II semifinal next Friday night from Royse City ISD Stadium. The winner advances to the state championship game, set for noon on Dec. 19 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Atlanta finished its season at 12-2.
Gilmer needed a last-second touchdown to survive arch-rival Gladewater last week in the same venue, but thanks to a 29-point opening quarter against Atlanta, there was no such drama this time at Lobo Stadium.
"It's really important to get off, just hit them in the mouth a little bit and shake them up," said Lynch, who rushed for two of Gilmer's four first-quarter touchdowns before his offensive fumble return for a score before halftime. "Once we get rolling, we're real hard to stop. If we get a rhythm going, we're going to put up a lot of points."
Carter threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns on 15 of 19 passing, while 10 different Gilmer players helped the Buckeyes amass 227 rushing yards. Jamel Jackson led the way with 65 yards and a score, but no Buckeye had more than seven carries on the night.
"Atlanta played the pass a lot more; they were really making sure we didn't throw the ball on them a lot," said Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor, who will be leading his team to the semifinals for the fifth time in his 15-year tenure. "So we had a good game plan of running the ball; our offensive line blocked really well and our backs ran real well, we just executed real well."
Kris Boyd, the hero from Gilmer's thrilling win a week ago after rushing for four touchdowns, had more of an impact in the passing game Friday night. He finished with five catches for 101 yards, included a 60-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass, and added 36 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
Chase Tate caught a team-high six passes for 106 yards and a score, and ran for 26 yards on four attempts.
"We just didn't play well last week," Traylor said. "We worked hard at it this week. Our receivers take a lot of pride in catching the ball, and we take a lot of pride in throwing the ball well. We threw and caught the ball better."
Gilmer's defense held down a potent Atlanta offense as well by keeping Rabbits dual-threat quarterback Musgrove in check.
Musgrove, who entered the game with more than 3,600 total yards and 53 touchdowns, managed 90 rushing yards on 24 carries and was 5 of 12 passing for 137 yards with two touchdowns and just his second and third interceptions of the season. Devin Smith returned his second pick of the night 32 yards for a touchdown to push Gilmer's lead to 43-12 midway through the second quarter.
"Our defense held a really good offense to 19 points, really," Traylor said. "We had some backups out there late. But still, what a great job by our defense."
Eddrick King was one of the few bright spots for Atlanta, finishing with four receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown and 41 yards on eight rushing attempts.
Gilmer drove 66 yards in eight plays on its opening drive and took a 7-0 lead on a Lynch 6-yard run at the 9:33 mark of the first quarter. Atlanta's first play from scrimmage was a 50-yard completion from Musgrove to King, which set up Dequan Allen's 3-yard touchdown run. The first of three mishaps on PAT tries left the Rabbits trailing, 7-6.
It was all Buckeyes after that.
"On the first play of the game, they burn us on a post and I've got two corners down there trying to strip it like crazy," Traylor said. "That's the thing people miss. Fans love play-calls, fans love chatter; it's about effort, it's about trust, it's about love. I know that stuff sounds corny but that's what we're really about."
Gilmer scored on its next two possessions -- a 3-yard run by Lynch and 12-yarder from Boyd. And after forcing a three-and-out on defense, the Buckeyes took over at their own 40 after a 14-yard punt. On first down, Boyd took Carter's screen pass 60 yards to paydirt to extend Gilmer's lead to 29-6 with two seconds to play in the first quarter.
Atlanta got a 1-yard scoring run from Allen on the ensuing Rabbits' drive, but two Gilmer possessions later, Carter connected with Quinn Fluellen for a 22-yard touchdown that pushed the lead to 36-12.
Then came Devin Smith's pick-six, which was later followed by Gilmer's bizarre turnover-turned-offensive touchdown courtesy of Lynch with just 1:05 remaining in the half.
"We played a lot better as a team, and it really just showed how hard we worked in practice," Lynch said.
No. 3 Gilmer 64, Atlanta 25
Class 4A Division II Quarterfinal
At Lobo Stadium, Longview
Atlanta 6 6 7 6 -- 25
Gilmer 29 21 7 7 -- 64
GIL--Blake Lynch 6 run (Juan Esquivel kick), 9:33.
ATL--Dequan Allen 3 run (kick failed), 6:40.
GIL--Lynch 3 run (Esquivel kick), 3:11.
GIL--Kris Boyd 12 run (Demarco Boyd run), 1:24.
GIL--Boyd 60 pass from McLane Carter (Esquivel kick), :02.
ATL--Allen 1 run (kick failed), 11:12.
GIL--Quinn Fluellen 22 pass from Carter (Esquivel kick), 7:39.
GIL--Devin Smith 32 interception return (Esquivel kick), 6:35.
GIL--Lynch 22 fumble return (Esquivel kick), 1:05.
ATL--Cade Coulter 7 pass from Chase Musgrove (Nick Bishop kick), 7:57.
GIL--Chase Tate 31 pass from Carter (Esquivel kick), 4:07.
ATL--Eddrick King 20 pass from Musgrove (kick failed), 10:37.
GIL--Jamel Jackson 7 run (Esquivel kick), 8:21.
First Downs 18 23
Total Yards 385 466
Rushes-Yards 58-248 35-227
Passing Yards 137 239
Comp.-Att.-Int. 5-12-2 15-19-1
Punts-Avg. 5-27.6 2-36.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 3-20 4-33
RUSHING--Atlanta, Chase Musgrove 24-90, Dequan Allen 14-51, Eddrick King 8-41, Jeremy Smith 4-34, Tyrell Phillips 8-32. Gilmer, Jamel Jackson 7-65, Blake Lynch 7-45, Kris Boyd 7-36, Chase Tate 4-26, Trendon Brooks 5-19, Desmond Jones 1-19, Demarco Boyd 1-12, Zac Spears 1-5, Ryen Lawhorn 1-1, McLane Carter 1-(-1).
PASSING--Atlanta, Musgrove 5-12-2--137. Gilmer, Carter 15-19-1--239.
RECEIVING--Atlanta, King 4-130, Cade Coulter 1-7. Gilmer, Tate 6-106, Kris Boyd 5-101, Quinn Fluellen 2-36, Lynch 1-7, Demarco Boyd 1-1.