Gilmer Tops Atlanta 31-17 for 600th Win in Program History [VIDEO]
TYLER -- Gilmer graduated two all-state-caliber quarterbacks in the spring, and a few injuries to a veteran defense during preseason scrimmages took some of the experience away from that unit.
None of those concerns was obvious Thursday night at TMF Rose Stadium. Junior quarterback Tanner Barr threw three touchdown passes, while Gilmer's defense contained Oklahoma State-bound tailback Corion Webster most of the game in the Buckeyes' 31-17 season-opening win, the 600th in program history.
Gilmer (1-0) becomes the 26th school in Texas high school football history to reach the 600 plateau. The Buckeyes did so with a balanced offense and fast defense, which limited Webster to 80 yards on his first 20 carries. Webster broke free for a 54-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but Gilmer had already built a three-score lead. Webster, who rushed for almost 600 yards in three previous meetings against Gilmer, rushed for a solid 138 yards on 23 carries, but his damage was limited compared to his past exploits vs. the Buckeyes.
"Our defense was fantastic," said Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor. "We were committed to stopping him, and we just tried to keep mixing it up so they just wouldn't know what we were doing. It was a bunch of kids giving great effort and running to the football."
Gilmer held Atlanta (0-1), which did not complete a first-half pass attempt, to 261 yards, including 4-for-12 passing for 54 yards and an interception. The Buckeyes did so without senior linebacker Adam Witcher and senior safety Dylan Bowman, who were out with injuries. Junior Carlos Johnson had two tackles for loss, and freshman linebacker DeMarco Boyd had a sack. Senior defensive back Justus Cheatham picked off a pass to end the fist half.
Senior nose tackle Xavier Fluellen was 1 of 8 Buckeyes with a tackle for loss.
"Our approach was we've just got to stop him. If it wasn't for the whole team, that wouldn't have happened," Fluellen said. "I think we did pretty good. Like coach Traylor says, if somebody falls down, there's always gonna be somebody that comes up."
Traylor credited junior John McPherson and sophomore Jamel Jackson for having big games defensively.
Both offenses sputtered during the first quarter and a half, but Gilmer hit its stride during a four-play, 60-yard drive capped by junior Josh Walker's four-yard touchdown run that gave the Buckeyes a 10-3 lead with 3:11 left in the first half. Sophomore Chase Tate caught a 44-yard screen pass to set up the touchdown.
Gilmer scored on three of its next four possessions. All three scores were Barr touchdown passes: 20 yards to junior Patrick Finch, 69 yards to junior DeVondrick Dixon, and 22 yards to Dixon. Dixon's second touchdown gave Gilmer a 31-11 lead with 2:19 left in the third quarter.
Barr was 12-for-17 for 219 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 41 yards on eight carries. Gilmer ran 32 times for 180 yards led by sophomore Kris Boyd's 68 yards on eight carries. Walker matched Barr's 41 yards, but on five carries.
Gilmer played three quarterbacks during the preseason -- Barr, junior Jaidon Parrish, and sophomore McClane Carter -- but Barr got all the snaps Thursday.
"He's really improved a lot. He's a great kid. He's a coach's kid. It doesn't surprise me," Traylor said. "If Jaidon would've played, Jaidon would've done well. If McClane would've been out there, McClane would've done well. We've got three good quarterbacks and our quarterback coach does a great job with them. They believe in the system. I don't know that we always get it right, but our kids believe."
Tate gained 77 yards on eight touches, and Finch had three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.
One bright spot for Atlanta was sophomore quarterback Chase Musgrove, who relieved senior Quaid Taylor after Taylor went 0-for-7 with an interception. Musgrove was 4-for-5 for 54 yards and a touchdown, an 18-yard fade-route strike to senior Nick Stiger on Musgrove's first throw. SMU-bound senior Everett Dickerson gained 51 yards on five carries, and senior Derrick Dowden rushed six times for 30 yards.
Traylor, who is in his 12th season coaching his alma mater, reflected on Gilmer's history on the night of its 600th win.
"There were a lot of wins before we got there. They didn't just start winning," Traylor said. "I think that's why our community is so loyal to football. Our old-timers won a lot of ball games."
Fluellen was proud to be part of the historic win.
"It feels so great. There's so much love in this program. There's so much encouragement from the town, to the teammates, to the coaches. It's just really, really fun."
Gilmer 31, Atlanta 17
TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler
First downs 17 12
Rushes-yards 32-180 43-207
Passing yards 219 54
Comp.-Att.-Int. 12-17-0 4-12-1
Punts-Avg. 2-48.0 4-28.8
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 4-50 4-18
RUSHING -- Gilmer: Kris Boyd 8-68, Josh Walker 5-41, Tanner Barr 8-41, Chase Tate 6-23, DeVondrick Dixon 2-7, Charles Williams 1-2, Jamel Jackson 1-2, TEAM 1-(-4). Atlanta: Corion Webster 23-138, Everett Dickerson 5-51, Derrick Dowden 6-30, Alan Fonteneaux 3-11, Nick Stiger 2-4, TEAM 1-(-1), Chase Musgrove 1-(-10), Quaid Taylor 1-(-16).
PASSING -- Gilmer: Tanner Barr 12-17-0 219. Atlanta: Chase Musgrove 4-5-0 54, Quaid Taylor 0-7-1 0.
RECEIVING -- Gilmer: Patrick Finch 3-45, Josh Walker 3-9, DeVondrick Dixon 2-91, Chase Tate 2-54, Desmond Pollard 1-15, Jaidon Parrish 1-5. Atlanta: Alan Fonteneaux 2-34, Nick Stiger 1-18, Kadarian Robinson 1-2.