Gilmer Overcomes Second-Half Miscues to Escape Gladewater, 35-28
GILMER -- It's been since 2001 that Gladewater defeated its biggest rival, Gilmer. The last two losses were of the excruciating variety.
Gladewater suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Buckeyes in the final seconds of their memorable 2014 third-round playoff game in Longview. And on Friday night, in front of a capacity crowd at Jeff Traylor Stadium, Gilmer stole another one from its long-tortured counterpart.
Despite Gladewater dominating almost every statistical category, and executing its grind-it-out running attack, the Buckeyes found a way to take a 35-28 win.
Gilmer (6-1, 2-0 in District 7-4A Division II), ranked No. 8 in this week's Associated Press 4A poll, was outgained in yardage, minus-three in turnover margin, and did not have an offensive series exceed one minute in length the entire second half.
But it was the Buckeyes who handed Gladewater (5-1, 1-1) its first loss of the season.
Gilmer scored the go-ahead touchdown with 8:15 remaining in the fourth when quarterback Aaron "Poppy" Brown ran it in from 5 yards out. That punctuated a four-play, 63-yard drive that took all of 38 seconds.
Gladewater responded with a drive that consumed almost six minutes, but on fourth-and-5 from the Gilmer 17, Buckeyes senior receiver/defensive back LaMarcus Morton broke up a pass in the end zone intended for Austin Hawley with 2:36 remaining.
An intentional grounding penalty on first down eventually led to a Gilmer three-and-out on the ensuing series, and Gladewater regained possession at its own 33 with 1:41 to play, but with no timeouts.
The Bears got as far as their own 43 after securing a first down, but Gilmer safety and Louisiana Tech commit Kollin Hurt intercepted Gladewater quarterback Cameron Callaway -- the Bears' only turnover of the night -- with 34 seconds remaining to seal the win.
“Our offense struggled a little bit, and we had to come through some adversity," Hurt said. "We stopped them a couple times to the point where they had to throw it, and I just picked it off.”
Despite possessing the ball for an incredible 20:30 of the second half, five of Gladewater's seven post-halftime series ended with fourth-down stops by the Gilmer defense -- all in Buckeyes territory.
“Our seniors had to step up and lead," Hurt added. "Every game this year in the second half we’ve held (the opponent) to almost no points. Our defense had to come through.”
The fourth-down heroics helped Gilmer overcome three second-half interceptions, the first of which led to Gladewater's only touchdown of the second half.
Oddly, the Bears, who ran 45 offensive plays to Gilmer's 15 in the final two quarters, tied the game at 28-28 at the midway point one play after Bryston Oliver's interception of Brown -- a 45-yard pass from Cameron Callaway to Tyler Glenn.
Gilmer's next two series ended with picks by Gladewater's DeQuanca Bowens and Oliver again. But both Bears' drives were stopped on fourth down, limiting the damage.
“The story of the second half was probably our defense," said Gilmer coach Matt Turner. "Our offense, we kinda shot ourselves in the foot a little bit, but made plays when we had to. Our defense kept responding against a very good team, and that’s hard to do: to have to repeatedly step up and stop them.”
Brown finished the night 15 of 25 with 256 yards and three touchdown passes, after beginning the game with 10 consecutive completions and finishing the opening half 14 of 18 for 232 yards.
Morton, who is committed to Oklahoma State, caught two first-half touchdowns and ended the night with four catches for 123 yards.
The real offensive star for Gilmer was junior receiver Red Jones. He led the Buckeyes with 32 rushing yards, caught five passes for 84 yards, and delivered Gilmer's two biggest plays of the game on offense.
Jones began the Buckeyes' go-ahead drive with a 17-yard run on a jet sweep, and after a roughing the passer penalty on the next play, Jones made an over-the-shoulder reception -- Brown's only completion of the second half -- and tip-toed the sideline for a 24-yard reception the Gladewater 5-yard line.
“We had a little sucker route called, I kinda went up the seam and Poppy hit me on my back shoulder," Jones said. "I just had to make the play and get my foot in. He had a lot of pressure coming on, so he just threw it up there and I had to go make a play.”
Gilmer scored the eventual game-winning touchdown on the next snap.
“Red’s just that kinda guy, he’s the guy that can make those kind of plays," Turner said. "We’ve got a number of them, and he’s one of them.”
Gladewater wasn't flashy, but lethally methodical on offense. The Bears ran the ball 69 times, and had three ball carriers run for at least 98 yards on the night.
Senior tailback Darnell McKnight led the way with 119 yards on 25 attempts, Callaway added 110 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, and Isaiah Davis carried a team-high 26 times for 98 yards and a score.
“That’s a great team we just played, I give them a lot of credit," Jones said of Gladewater. “When you play a team like this you’ve got to be physical. That’s a hard-nosed football team, and you’ve got to keep playing.”
The offenses were in high gear in a competitive first half.
Gilmer scored on its second play from scrimmage -- a 49-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Jones. But Gladewater responded with a big play of its own on the ensuing series when Callaway kept an option and raced 62 yards untouched to the end zone.
Callaway ran in the two-point conversion to give the Bears an 8-7 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Gilmer fumbled on its next series, but Gladewater was stopped on fourth down, setting the Buckeyes up near midfield. Gilmer regained the lead -- 14-8 -- when halfback Brett Rice hit a wide-open Kameryn Cuevas down the seam for a 32-yard touchdown with 3:23 to play in the first.
Following consecutive three-and-outs, Gladewater put together a nine-play, 65-yard scoring drive that ended with a Callaway 5-yard touchdown run and gave the Bears a 15-14 lead early in the second quarter.
Gilmer responded less than two minutes later when Morton got behind the Gladewater secondary to haul in a 61-yard touchdown from Brown, pushing the Buckeyes' lead to 21-15.
Neither offense could find traction on its next possession, but then Gladewater found the end zone on a Davis 5-yard touchdown run. The extra point sailed wide to the right, leaving the game tied at 21-21 with 54 seconds remaining until halftime.
That gave Gilmer just enough time to grab some momentum before intermission. The Buckeyes moved 65 yards in 33 seconds, taking a 28-21 lead on Brown's 10-yard scoring pass to Morton.
Both teams are back in action next Friday night. Gladewater plays host to Atlanta (5-2, 1-1), while Gilmer travels to Longview and faces Spring Hill (3-4, 0-2).
“We’ve just got to bounce back next week," Hurt said. "We have a lot of confidence right now.”
No. 8 Gilmer 35, Gladewater 28
At Jeff Traylor Stadium, Gilmer
Gladewater 8 13 7 0 -- 28
Gilmer 14 14 0 7 -- 35
GIL--Red Jones 49 pass from Aaron "Poppy" Brown (Adan Ibarra kick), 11:17.
GLA--Cameron Callaway 62 run (Callaway run), 9:23.
GIL--Kameryn Cuevas 32 pass from Brett Rice (Ibarra kick), 3:23.
GLA--Callaway 5 run (Fernando Serrano kick), 8:27.
GIL--LaMarcus Morton 61 pass from Brown (Ibarra kick), 6:39.
GLA--Isaiah Davis 5 run (kick failed), :54.
GIL--Morton 10 pass from Brown (Ibarra kick), :21.
GLA--Tyler Glenn 45 pass from Callaway (Amado Espinoza kick), 6:00.
GIL--Brown 5 run (Ibarra kick), 8:15.
First Downs 20 14
Total Yards 385 351
Rushes-Yards 69-324 18-63
Passing Yards 61 288
Comp.-Att-Int. 4-10-1 16-26-3
Punts-Avg. 2-36.5 3-28.0
Fumbles-Lost 3-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 7-59 5-56
RUSHING--Gladewater, Darnell McKnight 25-119, Cameron Callaway 14-110, Isaiah Davis 26-98, Rashaud Johnson 2-4, Clint Starling 1-0, Tyler Glenn 1-(-7). Gilmer, Red Jones 2-32, Kameryn Cuevas 4-11, Rashaad Ward 1-9, Kelton Collier 4-7, Aaron "Poppy" Brown 5-4, Desmond Jones 2-0.
PASSING--Gladewater, Callaway 4-10-1--61. Gilmer, Brown 15-25-3--256, Brett Rice 1-1-0--32.
RECEIVING--Gladewater, Austin Hawley 2-13, Tyler Glenn 1-45, Daniel Robertson 1-3. Gilmer, Red Jones 5-84, LaMarcus Morton 4-123, Qua Heath 3-26, Cuevas 2-35, Desmond Jones 2-30.