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Gilmer Rolls Past Graham, 50-7, Into Class 3A Division II State Championship Game

MANSFIELD — The Gilmer Buckeyes needed a 17-point comeback last week. No such rally was needed Friday night.

Gilmer scored on its first three possessions, building a 21-point in its 50-7 rout of Graham in their Class 3A Division II state semifinal from Vernon Newsom Stadium.

The win puts the Buckeyes (14-1) in their fifth state championship game in program history and fourth in nine years under coach Jeff Traylor. Gilmer will take on the state’s top-ranked team Navasota (15-0) for the 3A D-II title, set for 4 p.m. Friday from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Graham finished its season at 13-2.

Junior quarterback Tanner Barr led the way, completing 13 of 17 passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns. He added 49 yards on nine rushing attempts.

“We just tried to get it going early,” Barr said. “We had to get out to a big start and get on them early. Our offensive line did well on the first drive. I’m just glad we came away with a victory.”

Junior running back and linebacker Josh Walker, a Texas A&M commit, had a dominating effort on both sides of the ball. Walker ran for 70 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries, while coming away with three sacks on defense.

“We were playing a lot of man,” Walker said. “We knew (Dillon Gonzales) the running back was very speedy, and the quarterback was fast himself. All week we had in our mind that we had to pressure the quarterback to help the DBs in the secondary out back there. If we can get the pressure, we’re the best secondary up front. That’s what we stressed all week and we went out and did it.”

The Buckeyes racked up five sacks, all coming in the first half.

“Our pressure, we knew, was going to be huge,” Traylor said. “Our plan was so much man tonight, so we knew he had to get to him. They burned us once, but we got after him pretty good.”

Sophomore Kris Boyd led Gilmer’s rushing attack, which churned out 283 yards, with 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17 attempts.

Junior receiver Jaidon Parrish had four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Patrick Finch and Slade Morris also had TD receptions for Gilmer, which totaled 445 yards of offense.

Gonzales led the Steers with 91 yards on 20 carries and two catches for 84 yards, including an 80-yard score for the only points for Graham.

The Steers picked up a pair of first downs on the game’s opening drive, but the drive soon fizzled and Gilmer set up shop at its own 34 after a 13-yard punt into a brutal crosswind.

It took Gilmer seven plays to take the lead. Walker’s 32-yard run on fourth-and-3 set up Boyd’s 13-yard scoring run on the very next play for a 7-0 Buckeyes lead with 6:51 showing on the first-quarter clock.

Gilmer took over on its next possession at its own 29, and quickly moved the ball downfield on the ground. Walker scored from 6 yards out on the drive’s seventh play, and the Buckeyes led 14-0 with 2:59 to go in the opening quarter.

Graham attempted a fake punt on its own 30 on fourth-and-5, but Ben Davis was wrapped up behind the line of scrimmage.

Barr and the Buckeyes took advantage right away when he found Slade Morris on a seam route for a 26-yard touchdown. Gilmer led 21-0 with 1:45 still showing in the first.

“It was just the wind,” Traylor said of his team’s fast start. “We won the toss and we just decided to kick it to them twice. I’ve never done that in my career. With a 20 mph wind, we felt pretty good about our defensive game plan. And sometimes that stuff happens.”

Graham finally got on the board on the third play of the second quarter when Davis hit a streaking Gonzales, who leaked out of the backfield, for an 80-yard touchdown.

Gilmer answered immediately, going 74 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 15-yard pass from Barr to Finch. Walker ran in the two-point conversion to push Gilmer’s lead to 29-7, which was the score at halftime.

The Buckeyes polished off Graham with a 21-point third quarter. Barr hit Parrish for a 17-yard touchdown, Walker scored for the second time with an 11-yard run and Boyd found the end zone from 7 yards out for his second score of the night.

By then, Gilmer fans were already making reservations for Arlington.

“I think it’s more special because for those who’ve kept up with us through the year … we’ve just gotten a lot better,” Traylor said. “We were not a very good football team for seven weeks. We won some games, but it was ugly. We got to that open week and we just caught some magic and we’re just rolling right now. We’re very grateful and humble to be there, I mean that with all my heart.”

Class 3A Division II State Semifinal
At Vernon Newsom Stadium, Mansfield
Gilmer 50, Graham 7
Graham           0    7    0    0    –    7
Gilmer            21    8   21   0    –   50
First Quarter
GIL–Kris Boyd 13 run (Pablin Olivares kick), 6:51.
GIL–Josh Walker 6 run (Olivares kick), 2:59.
GIL–Slade Morris 26 pass from Tanner Barr (Olivares kick), 1:45.
Second Quarter
GRA–Dillon Gonzales 80 pass from Ben Davis (Fidel Herrera kick), 11:38.
GIL–Patrick Finch 15 pass from Barr (Walker run), 9:08.
Third Quarter
GIL–Jaidon Parrish 17 pass from Barr (Olivares kick), 8:43.
GIL–Walker 11 run (Olivares kick), 4:59.
GIL–Boyd 7 run (Olivares kick), 2:25.

                                      GRA               GIL
First Downs                         17                 24
Rushes-Yards                 40-89          46-283
Passing Yards                    193               162
Comp.-Att.-Int.             13-29-1         13-17-0
Punts-Avg.                     5-30.0           4-31.5
Fumbles-Lost                       3-1               3-0
Penalties-Yards                  3-20             7-53

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING–Graham, Dillon Gonzales 20-91, Ben Davis 16-1, Hagen Hughes 4-(-3). Gilmer, Kris Boyd 17-91, Josh Walker 5-70, Tanner Barr 9-49, Patrick Kochin 4-30, Jamel Jackson 8-25, Chase Tate 2-12, DeVondrick Dixon 1-6.
PASSING–Graham, Davis 13-29-1–193. Gilmer, Barr 13-17-0–162.
RECEIVING–Graham, Bryce Reeves 5-74, Hunter Jones 3-16, Gonzales 2-84, Janson Graham 1-9, Braden Lang 1-6, Travis Hillmer 1-4. Gilmer, Jaidon Parrish 4-54, Patrick Finch 3-51, Slade Morris 2-36, Walker 2-2, Boyd 1-9, Trey Washington 1-0.

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