Gladewater Grabs First Postseason Win Since 2001 With 48-0 Rout of Canton
LINDALE -- The community of Gladewater had gone 12 years without experiencing a playoff victory. But thanks to a punishing ground game and a ferocious defense, the wait is finally over.
Gladewater scored on its first five possessions and held Canton to less than 200 yards of total offense in an impressive 48-0 victory Thursday night at Eagle Stadium in their Class 3A Division II Region II bi-district playoff.
The Bears' last postseason victory occurred in 2001 -- a 20-13 third-round win over Wilmer-Hutchins.
"It's special for the kids for sure; all these kids that are out here have never experienced that," said fourth-year Gladewater coach Jerrod Baugh. "It's nice for the community members and the school. After all the history that Gladewater's had, it's good for them to get back in there."
Gladewater (5-6), which finished fourth in the vaunted District 16-3A -- a.k.a. "District of Doom" -- will face Atlanta (7-4) at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Longview's Lobo Stadium in a rematch of the Bears' 46-34 regular-season win on Sept. 21.
Canton finished its season at 4-7.
Gladewater rolled up 528 yards of total offense, 428 of which came on the ground. Freshman Darnell McKnight led the way with 133 yards and two touchdowns on 11 attempts. Sophomore fullback Justice Centers added 109 yards and three touchdowns and caught three passes for 74 yards. Marcello Jackson added 87 yards on 11 carries, while James Reese produced 75 yards on just two carries.
"It's nice to have that many to rotate in," Baugh said. "Most of those guys are undersized. I knew early in the season that we were going to have to get a rotation because I didn't feel like they could withstand 20-25 carries a ballgame like we normally ask the tailback to do. Those guys enjoy pushing each other. One of them will get off to a long run and then you've got those other ones waiting to get in there to get after it because they want some of it too. It's great competition and I appreciate that."
Gladewater junior quarterback Nick Canaguier finished 5-of-6 for 100 yards, adding another dimension to what was an unstoppable offense Thursday night.
"That's a big deal for us," Baugh said. "We don't throw it a whole lot, but we need to be able to throw some play-action passes and the quick game with the quarterback. Nick's come a long way since the beginning of the season, and that's what makes our offense tick. Everybody piles in there to stop the run and we need to be able to complete some balls in the passing game, and were able to do that and that keeps people off balance."
Gladewater dominated on the defensive side of the ball as well, limiting Canton to just 170 total yards and just 44 passing.
Junior defensive tackle and Texas A&M commit Daylon Mack, one of the nation's top recruits in the 2015 class, had his way with the Canton offensive line all night. The 6-2, 310-pounder finished with two sacks and three tackles for loss with several more quarterback pressures.
"It's definitely special to me just because it's a team game and I'm doing it with my friends, and it hasn't been done in a long time," Mack said of achieving a playoff win for Gladewater. "So that definitely makes it a big deal."
Kenneth Gossett added two sacks and tackled Canton punter Dalton Fritcher in the end zone for a safety right before halftime. Hagen Cooper also had a sack a fumble recovery for the Bears.
Canton, which had five dropped passes by receivers in the first half, was led by senior running back Jordan Jackson, who had 93 yards on 15 carries.
It took Gladewater two plays to find the end zone when Reese raced 71 yards for a 6-0 Bears lead. Gladewater scored in three plays on its next drive. Canaguier hit Centers for a 40-yard passing play on first down, and McKnight scored from 12 yards out two plays later for 12-0 advantage.
The Bears' next drive covered 80 yards in eight plays and ended with Centers' 14-yard scoring run, but a third consecutive missed extra point left the score 18-0. McKnight's 11-yard touchdown capped a four-play, 78-yard drive and gave the Bears a 25-0 lead on Gladewater's following series. Centers' 2-yard scoring run with 2:29 remaining in the half extended the lead further before a botched snap to the punter resulted in a safety and a 34-0 Gladewater lead with 10 seconds remaining in the half.
"All you can ask is that the offense moves the ball, and at least make the other team drive the length of the field," Baugh said. "We were able to score the ball early on and made us play with a little more confidence on both sides of the ball."
Centers added a 31-yard touchdown run on Gladewater's opening possession of the second half, and Canaguier snuck it in from a yard out late in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on what had proven to be an elusive postseason win for the Gladewater program.
"We'll enjoy this tonight … and we'll get back to work fifth period tomorrow," Baugh said.
Class 3A Division II Region II Bi-District Playoff
Gladewater 48, Canton 0
Eagle Stadium, Lindale
Canton 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Gladewater 12 22 7 7 -- 48
GLA--James Reese 71 run (kick failed), 8:28.
GLA--Darnell McKnight 18 run (kick failed), 2:38.
GLA--Justice Centers 14 run (kick failed), 11:09.
GLA--McKnight 11 run (Marcello Jackson kick), 6:33.
GLA--Centers 2 run (Jackson kick), 2:29.
GLA--Safety, Canton's Dalton Fritcher tackled in end zone by Gladewater's Kenneth Gossett, :10.
GLA--Centers 31 run (Jackson kick), 11:13.
GLA--Nick Canaguier 1 run (Jackson kick), 2:27.
First Downs 14 25
Total Yards 170 528
Rushes-Yards 40-126 43-428
Passing Yards 44 100
Comp.-Att.-Int. 9-21-1 5-7-0
Punts-Avg. 4-37.5 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 4-2
Penalties-Yards 9-60 9-65
RUSHING--Canton, Jordan Jackson 15-93, Hunter Moore 4-30, Kolton Landes 6-20, Dalton Fritcher 1-9, Chandler Eiland 11-1, Ryan Slider 1-(-10), Team 2-(-17). Gladewater, Darnell McKnight 11-133, Justice Centers 11-109, Marcello Jackson 11-87, James Reese 2-75, Cameron Callaway 1-18, Daylon Mack 1-11, Daryl Polk 1-2, Nick Canaguier 4-(-1), Logan Brooks 1-(-6).
PASSING--Canton, Eiland 7-19-1--25, Moore 1-1-0--11, Fritcher 1-1-0--8. Gladewater, Canaguier 5-6-0--100, Blake Guthrie 0-1-0--0.
RECEIVING--Canton, Brad Wiggins 2-9, Logan Nace 2-6, Riley Burrus 1-11, Samuel Miller 1-8, Slider 1-6, Cody Smith 1-6, Jackson 1-(-2). Gladewater, Centers 3-74, Bailey Glenn 1-22, Polk 1-4.