Gilmer Solves “Monster” Brown Riddle Just in Time to Save Its Season
LONGVIEW -- When Henderson inserted Patrick "Monster" Brown at quarterback midway through the Lions' regular-season matchup with Gilmer on Oct. 13, the Buckeyes were on their heels.
The same rang true for the first 27 minutes of their rematch Friday night at Lobo Stadium.
The Lions bullied Gilmer's defense on the legs of Brown and senior running back Diamante Wright, building a 31-14 lead late in the first half. It was a continuation of the first meeting, when Brown nearly led his team back from an 18-point deficit.
Except this time, Gilmer made the adjustment and came storming back, outscoring Henderson 27-3 the rest of the way for a 41-34 victory in their Class 3A Division II Region II championship game.
“We realized they used a very basic, counter power scheme, so we just had to adjust off everything they were doing," Gilmer senior linebacker Adam Witcher said.
The comeback began after William Mann's 40-yard field goal put Henderson up 31-14 with 2:56 to go in the half. Henderson elected to kick an onside kick, but it was recovered by the Buckeyes' Dylan Bowman at midfield.
Three plays and 22 seconds later, Gilmer quarterback Tanner Barr rushed it into the end zone, to cut the lead to 31-21. The Buckeyes' defense came up with a rare, first-half stop, forcing a Henderson three-and-out.
Gilmer took over at its own 16, and led by precision passing from Barr, moved 84 yards in eight plays, culminating in his 24-yard touchdown pass to Slade Morris on fourth down.
Just like that, Gilmer had trimmed the deficit to 31-28 before halftime.
“Both of our safeties got hurt at the end of that first quarter, and that hurt us some as far being able to get to the outside," Henderson coach Dickey Meeks said. "They were doing the same thing, they were just doing it real fast.”
The Buckeyes didn't score on their first possession of the third quarter, but thanks to a big 6-yard carry by junior Josh Walker on fourth-and-1 at the Henderson 34, Gilmer kept its second drive of the half alive.
On third-and-goal from the 3, Barr handed it off to sophomore receiver Chase Tate, who in-turn fed it to receiver Trey Washington, and Washington found a wide-open Barr in the end zone for the score and a 35-31 Gilmer lead with 3:28 to go in the third.
Henderson went backwards on the ensuing drive, going three-and-out again. And on the first play of the fourth quarter, Gilmer's DeVondrick Dixon delivered the backbreaker by taking a reverse handoff and speeding 64 yards for the touchdown and a 41-31 lead.
Gilmer had taken complete control by scoring 27 consecutive points, thanks to big stops from its defense that allowed Henderson just 74 yards and five first downs in the second half.
“Our defense has done that for years," Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor said. "They might be undersized ... but they play extremely hard and take great pride in that ‘G’ on the side of their helmet and they don’t want to let that ‘G’ down. It means a lot to them.”
And the fact that the game was played in front of an estimated 12,000 fans, which forced several to the hills along either side of the stadium, made the win all the more special for Gilmer.
“It was everything and more," Witcher said. It was incredible.”
Added Traylor: "It couldn’t have been better, it was everything you hope for in East Texas. Lobo was packed, people were up in the trees. It was one for the ages. It reminded me as kid of Gladewater and Daingerfield in the ‘80s at Rose and Lobo as a little kid. It made me want to be a coach.”