[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

GILMER -- Twenty-four and counting.

The Gilmer Buckeyes survived a major scare from a scrappy Bullard Panthers bunch, scoring late in the fourth quarter to pick up a 28-21 victory Saturday evening at Jeff Traylor Stadium.

It was Gilmer’s 24th win in a row, dating back to the first game of the 2014 football season.

Buckeyes quarterback Zac Spears connected with LaMarcus Morton for three scores, the most important coming with 3:06 remaining to give the Buckeyes (8-0, 3-0 in District 5-4A Division II) their first -- and only -- lead of the game.

Spears completed 18 of his 40 passing attempts for 287 yards and three touchdowns, while adding one score on the ground. Morton caught seven passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns.

Bullard quarterback Cleet Bowman (16) is sacked by Gilmer's Dustin Brown during the Buckeyes' 28-21 win Saturday in Gilmer. (Ruel Felipe, ETSN.fm)

The Gilmer rushing attack was stymied the entire night in a steady rain by an impressive Bullard (5-3, 2-1) defense. The Buckeyes picked up just 36 yards on 29 carries.

After opening the second half with a fumble in the midst of a drive deep in Bullard territory, Gilmer found itself in unfamiliar territory.

Cleet Bowman connected with Texas commit Major Tennison for eight yards and Jacob Johnson ran for 29 yards to the Gilmer 16-yard line. Bowman and Tennison hooked up on the next play for a 16-yard scoring strike to give the Panthers a 21-14 lead midway through the third quarter.

Johnson was one of three effective runners for the Panthers on the night, finishing with 45 yards on 11 carries. Luke Bowman added 66 yards and a score on eight carries. Tre Crayton added 30 yards and a score.

Gilmer chewed up more than four minutes on their its possession, which lasted 13 plays, but a high snap and handoff attempt was fumbled and picked up by the Panthers.

Bulllard couldn’t take advantage and punted to the Buckeyes’ 33-yard line.

Gilmer's Zac Spears hands the ball off to Demarco Boyd during the Buckeyes' 28-21 home win over Bullard on Saturday. (Ruel Felipe, ETSN.fm)

Spears connected with his favorite target, Morton, on first down for 56 yards to the 11-yard line. Running back Cambron Granville added eight yards the next play, then Spears called his own number on the next snap, and scored from three yards to even the score, 21-21.

The Gilmer defense rose up in the fourth quarter, pressuring Bowman into hasty passes and forcing a Bullard punt that set the Buckeyes up at their own 41-yard line with 7:22 remaining in the game.

Spears hit Morton for 15 yards on third-and-12 to move the ball across midfield. He then found Granville for 16 yards on third-and-18 to set up the first of their two fourth-down conversions on the drive, as Granville carried for eight yards on fourth-and-2 to the Bullard 29-yard line.

Later facing fourth-and-6, Spears hit Texas commit Demarco Boyd for 14 yards to the 11-yard line. Two plays later, he connected with Morton for their third touchdown connection of the night, giving the Buckeyes their first lead of the night at 28-21.

Bullard started its final drive at their own 20-yard line, and only a Gilmer pass interference penalty could move the chains.

The Panthers ultimately failed to convert a fourth-and-17, allowing the Buckeyes to run out the clock.

Saturday's game started a bit sloppy for both teams.

Bullard opened with a punt and the Buckeyes followed with a turnover on downs, which gave the Panthers solid field position.

Starting at the Buckeye 42-yard line, Bowman connected with Drake Daly for nine yards, and then Luke Bowman on fourth-and-3 for a 17-yard gain to the 18. Two plays later, Luke Bowman took the delayed draw up the middle for an 18-yard score and a 7-0 Panther lead.

Bullard's Luke Bowman scores the Panthers' first touchdown in their 28-21 loss at Gilmer on Saturday. (Ruel Felipe, ETSN.fm)

Both teams traded punts and turnovers on downs before the Buckeyes evened things up.

With the Panthers (5-3, 2-1) unable to convert a fourth-and-1 at their own 29-yard line, field position was in Gilmer’s favor.

Kelton Collier took it nine yards on third-and-11, and then Boyd picked up two on fourth down to get to the Panthers' 19-yard line.

Spears hit Morton for the first of their scoring connections on a well-executed corner route for the 22-yard TD to tie things up.

After Gilmer was stuffed deep in its own territory and punted, Bullard started with the ball at the Buckeyes' 31-yard line.

Bowman hit Tennison on a screen pass for a 19-yard pickup on fourth-and-8, moving the ball to the Buckeyes' 10. Following a penalty, Tre Crayton picked up 14 yards, then found the end zone the next play from two yards out for a 14-7 Bullard lead.

Gilmer responded with consecutive first downs on a 12-yard run by Collier and a 12-yard completion to Morton that moved the ball to the Panthers' 29. The drive nearly stalled, but Spears hit Kollin Hurt for 27 yards on fourth-and-13.

Spears then connected with Morton for the second time, this time for a 5-yard score on a slant route to even things up at 14 just before the half.

Gilmer returns to action this week when its travel to Nevada Community. Bullard will play host to Melissa.

Gilmer's Desmond Jones (17 and Kollin Hurt (12) force Bullard's Tre Crayton to fumble at the goal line during the Buckeyes' 28-21 home win Saturday. (Ruel Felipe, ETSN.fm)

No. 2 Gilmer 28, Bullard 21
District 5-4A Division II
Jeff Traylor Stadium, Gilmer

Bullard     7          7          7          0       --     21
Gilmer      0          14       0          14     --     28

First Quarter
BUL – Luke Bowman 18 run (Will McCowin kick) 6:26
Second Quarter
GIL – LaMarcus Morton 22 pass from Zac Spears (Juan Esquivel kick) 10:59
BUL – Tre Crayton 2 run (McCowin kick) 4:03
GIL – Morton 5 pass from Spears (Esquivel kick) :35
Third Quarter
BUL – Major Tennison 16 pass from Cleet Bowman (McCowin kick) 6:31
Fourth Quarter
GIL – Spears 3 run (Esquivel kick) 9:52
GIL – Morton 10 pass from Spears (Esquivel kick) 3:06

                                 BUL                GIL
First Downs                10                   14
Total Yards                235                 323
Rushes-Yards          33-142           29-36
Pass Yards              93                   287
Comp-Att-Int          9-26-0          18-40-0
Penalties-Yards         5-45                8-78
Fumbles-Lost           2-0                  2-2
Punts-Avg               6-24                4-30

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING 
Bullard, Tre Crayton 12-30 Luke Bowman 8-66 Jacob Johnson 11-45 Cleet Bowman 2-1. Gilmer, DeMarco Boyd 4-8 Kelton Collier 8-30 Devin Smith 2-2 Red Jones 2(-1) LaMarcus Morton 1(-3) Zac Spears 6(-4) Cambron Granville 6-20 Team 1(-16)
PASSING – Bullard, Bowman 9-26-0--93. Gilmer, Spears 18-40-0--287
RECEIVING – Bullard, Drake Daly 4-31 Major Tennison 3-41 Bowman 2-21. Gilmer, Zod Heath 2-10 Smith 2-52 Morton 7-134 Boyd 2-12 Kollin Hurt 2-29 Cameron Bowman 1-9 Granville 2-41