[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

LONGVIEW – Facing a 17-point point deficit with less than three minutes remaining in the first half, the Gilmer Buckeyes never panicked.

It paid off.

The Buckeyes reeled off 27 consecutive points, then held off a late Henderson rally to defeat the Lions 41-34 in a “District of Doom” rematch, advancing to the Class 3A Division II Region II state semifinals.

“This is what I see every day,” said Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor. “This is what we do that separates us. Our kids just want to compete and so it doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Gilmer (13-1) will meet Graham at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Vernon Newsom Stadium in Mansfield.

Janson Moore’s only pass attempt of the game, coming on 4th-and-15 at the Gilmer 34 with four minutes remaining, went in and out of the hands of Patrick “Monster” Brown to kill Henderson’s chances.

Henderson's Patrick "Monster" Brown leaps in the air against Gilmer during their playoff game Friday night in Longview. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

The Buckeyes were able to run out the remaining 4:06 with the running of Josh Walker and Chase Tate, who were able to produce two first downs.

“I knew I had to come up big, the team was counting on me,” Walker said. “I had to keep the chains moving to win the game”

Brown finished his illustrious career as a Lion, going 3 of 7 for 68 yards and two TDs through the air, while carrying the ball for 128 yards on 23 carries.

“I’ve said most everything I can say about him,” Henderson coach Dickey Meeks said of Brown. “You watch him tonight and he was just unbelievable. We tried to throw it to him down there at the end and he almost had it. He’s a great kid, and he’ll be playing after high school.”

Brown picked up just 35 yards on his final 13 carries, however, as the Buckeye defense slowed him tremendously after the break.

“We’ve been working on stopping (Brown) all week,” Walker said. “He’s a great athlete; we’ve had to play him three years in a row.”

Henderson’s Diamante Wright finished the night with 108 yards and 22 carries with a TD.

“Once (the game’s over), there’s not anything you can do about it; the game’s over,” Meeks said. “I talked to the seniors about what a great career they’ve had.”

Gilmer junior quarterback Tanner Barr led the way for the Buckeyes by scoring three times. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 228 yards and a TD, rushed for 50 yards and a score and caught a 3-yard touchdown on a wide-receiver reverse pass from Trey Washington in what was the eventual game winner, putting the Buckeyes up 35-31 late in the third.

“We’ve been working on that since day one,” Barr said about his TD reception. “I’m surprised we ran it. It was a good change of momentum.”

The Buckeye defense stiffened late in the second quarter and throughout the second half, limiting both Brown and Wright, while the Buckeye offense moved the ball efficiently on the ground. Five different Buckeyes had at least six carries, leaving the Lion defense on the field for long stretches for the final two quarters.

Kris Boyd finished with 62 yards on nine carries, Tate with 48 yards on eight carries and Walker with 37 yards and two TDs.

DeVondrick Dixon’s only carry proved to be the biggest of the night. Clinging to a 35-31 lead, Dixon made the most of his carry, taking it 64 yards across field to put the Buckeyes up 41-31 after the extra point was no good.

“We came out to a slow start,” Barr said. “We just had to get it rolling. They’re a great team on defense. We had a few errors in the beginning. We finally clicked and didn’t look back.”

An unsuccessful onside kick by the Lions started the rally, following a 40-yard field goal by William Mann that gave the Lions a 31-14 lead.

The Buckeyes moved the ball down the field with ease in three plays, a Boyd 23-yard run and a completion to Patrick Finch that led to a Barr score from 10 yards out to cut the lead to 31-21.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Buckeyes moved the ball 84 yards in eight plays, capped by Barr’s fourth-down touchdown pass to Slade Morris from 24 yards out with six seconds left that brought the score to 31-28 at the half.

The Lions (9-5) built a 21-7 lead just eight minutes into the game behind Brown and a heads up play by J’Korrie Centers.

Brown’s 43-yard run on the game’s opening possession led to a 4-yard score from Wright. However, the extra point was blocked.

Following a Gilmer score by Walker, Brown found Tre’ Hollins on a play-action pass for a 59-yard score. The two-point run was good by Brown, giving the Lions a 14-7 advantage. Centers then scooped up a backward pass from Barr and ran it in untouched from 39 yards out to give the Lions a 21-7 advantage.

Both teams traded scores after that. Walker’s 6-yard run closing the gap, followed by a Brown-to-Centers 11-yard TD.


Class 3A Division II Region III Final
At Lobo Stadium, Longview
Gilmer 41, Henderson 34
Henderson         21   10   0    3   --  34
Gilmer                14   14   7    6   --  41
First Quarter
HEN--Diamante Wright 4 run (kick failed), 10:26.
GIL--Josh Walker 1 run (Pablin Olivares kick), 9:18.
HEN--Tre' Hollins 59 pass from Patrick Brown (Brown run), 7:40.
HEN--J'Korrie Centers 39 fumble return (William Mann kick), 4:41.
GIL--Walker 6 run (Olivares kick), 2:17.
Second Quarter
HEN--Centers 11 pass from Brown (Mann kick), 10:54.
HEN--FG Mann 40, 2:56.
GIL--Barr 10 run (Olivares kick), 2:34.
GIL--Slade Morris 24 pass from Barr (Olivares kick), :06.
Third Quarter
GIL--Barr 3 pass from Trey Washington (Olivares kick), 3:28.
Fourth Quarter
GIL--DeVondrick Dixon 64 run (kick failed), 11:48.
HEN--FG Mann 37, 9:04.

                                      HEN                GIL
First Downs                         16                 25
Rushes-Yards                47-241          45-273
Passing Yards                      68               231
Comp.-Att.-Int.                 3-8-0         21-31-0
Punts-Avg.                     4-43.0           2-23.0
Fumbles-Lost                      1-0               1-1
Penalties-Yards                 4-35              4-35

RUSHING--Henderson, Patrick Brown 23-128, Diamante Wright 22-107, Jamaal Kind 1-16, Tre' Hollins 1-(-10). Gilmer, DeVondrick Dixon 1-64, Kris Boyd 9-62, Tanner Barr 7-50, Chase Tate 8-49, Jamel Jackson 7-48, Josh Walker 11-37.
PASSING--Henderson, Brown 3-7-0--68, Janson Moore 0-1-0--0. Gilmer, Barr 20-30-0--228, Trey Washington 1-1-0--3.
RECEIVING--Henderson, Hollins 1-59, J'Korrie Center 1-11, Jordan Dickeson 1-(-2). Gilmer, Patrick Finch 7-72, Slade Morris 3-70, Jaidon Parrish 3-31, Washington 2-40, Boyd 2-19, Tate 2-5, Walker 1-11, Barr 1-3.

Bennie Johnson cheers on the Gilmer Buckeyes during their 41-34 win over Henderson on Friday night in Longview. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)