Gilmer Stops No. 4 Kilgore Late for 20-14 District Championship-Clinching Victory
GILMER -- In Friday's "District of Doom" championship game, the team that entered the contest known for its offense sealed the title-clinching win with its defense.
Gilmer defensive backs Trey Washington and Dylan Bowman broke up No. 4 Kilgore's fourth-and-goal, five-yard, play-action rollout pass in the end zone with less than a minute remaining to preserve a 20-14 Buckeye victory that gives Gilmer its 11th district championship in 12 seasons and second consecutive District 16-3A title.
A packed Buckeye Stadium saw Gilmer (9-1, 6-0) build a 20-7 third-quarter lead before Kilgore ran 31 of the game's final 44 plays in the last quarter and a half. Kilgore (8-1, 5-1) drove 87 yards for a touchdown on Cornelius Bell's two-yard run with five seconds left in the third to cut Gilmer's lead to 20-14.
Kilgore drove 63 yards in nine plays to set up a third-and-goal at the Gilmer 3-yard line with 57 seconds remaining, but quarterback Cooper Coldiron's handoff to Bell was botched, and the Bulldogs lost two yards to the 5-yard line for their fourth-down play. Coldiron, who kept Kilgore in the game for much of the second half thanks to his running ability and improvisation, was pressured on the play-action throw to the end zone that Washington and Bowman successfully defended.
Gilmer, which hasn't lost a home district game since 2000, plays Canton at Tyler's TMF Rose Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a Class 3A Division II Region II bi-district playoff. Kilgore faces Athens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Whitehouse's Wildcat Stadium in a Class 3A Division I Region II bi-district matchup.
Gilmer quarterback Tanner Barr completed 12 of 26 passes for 102 yards and an interception and ran nine times for 45 yards to account for about half of Gilmer's 297 total yards against a Kilgore defense that entered the night allowing an East Texas-best 5.9 points per game and 192 yards. DeVondrick Dixon gained 85 yards on four reverse carries, and Patrick Finch led the Buckeyes with five catches for 35 yards, including a 20-yard, second-quarter touchdown that pushed Gilmer ahead for good, 10-7.
"Kilgore, they play great defense. They were big and fast everywhere," Barr said. "We just had to keep on playing. They were very physical. ... We knew that we weren't going to be able to do as good as we do against other teams. We just had to keep on battling to the last play, and that's what happened."
Kilgore held Gilmer more than 130 yards below its season average of 430 yards of offense per game. The Bulldogs outgained the Buckeyes 305-297.
Gilmer, which was the top vote-getter outside of the latest Associated Press Class 3A Top 10, improved to 22-2 since the start of the 2011 season, which ended in a 3A Division II Region II championship appearance.
"We've improved so much from the beginning (of the season) until now," Barr said. "The 'District of Doom' is the toughest district in Texas right now. Now we have momentum going into the playoffs and it's time to go back to work and get ready for Canton."
Coldiron had a gutsy performance, completing 10 of 17 passes for 125 yards and running 12 times for 57 yards. His fourth-down, 37-yard scrambling completion to Benny Colbert set up Bell's two-yard touchdown run that cut Gilmer's lead to 20-14 late in the third. Kevrin Justice carried seven times for 65 yards and a touchdown, a 40-yarder that gave Kilgore a 7-3 lead in the second quarter. Austin Jordan had 47 yards on 11 carries, and Aaron Foy caught three passes for 44 yards.
Gilmer's Pablin Olivares kicked two first-half field goals (29, 22) for a 13-7 halftime lead. Kilgore's Hector Peralez had a second-half interception, and Gilmer's Josh Walker -- a junior Texas A&M commit -- carried the ball six times for 36 yards and added a sack from his outside linebacker spot.
Gilmer 20, No. 4 Kilgore 14
Buckeye Stadium, Gilmer
Kilgore -- 0 7 7 0 -- 14
Gilmer -- 0 13 7 0 -- 20
GIL -- Pablin Olivares 22 field goal -- 5:19
KIL -- Kevrin Justice 40 run (Hector Peralez kick) -- 4:48
GIL -- Patrick Finch 20 pass from Tanner Barr (Olivares kick) -- 2:58
GIL -- Olivares 29 field goal -- 0:02
GIL -- Jamel Jackson 5 run (Olivares kick) -- 6:40
KIL -- Cornelius Bell 2 run (Peralez kick) -- 0:05
First Downs 11 14
Rushes-Yards 35-180 30-195
Pass Yards 125 102
Comp.-Att.-Int. 10-17-0 12-26-1
Penalties-Yards 3-15 2-10
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-0
Punts-Avg. 8-29.0 5-39.6
Rushing -- Kilgore: Kevrin Justice 7-65, Cooper Coldiron 12-57, Austin Jordan 11-47, Cornelius Bell 2-5, JuJu Brown 2-4, Aaron Foy 1-2, Benny Colbert 3-(-3). Gilmer: DeVondrick Dixon 4-85, Tanner Barr 9-45, Josh Walker 6-36, Chase Tate 5-19, Jame Jackson 5-11, TEAM 1-(-1).
Passing -- Kilgore: Cooper Coldiron 10-17-0 125. Gilmer: Tanner Barr 12-26-1 102.
Receiving -- Kilgore: Aaron Foy 3-44, Benn Colbert 2-41, Jack Johnston 2-18, Q Brewster 2-11, Cornelius Bell 1-11. Gilmer: Patrick Finch 5-35, Chase Tate 4-23, Jaidon Parrish 2-16, DeVondrick Dixon 1-28.