Pleasant Grove Hands Gilmer First Home District Loss Since 2001 + Improves to 6-0
GILMER -- Pleasant Grove did just about whatever it wanted on the ground Friday night. But in the end, the Hawks needed a big play in the passing game.
And the call came from the head baseball coach of all people.
Ben Harmon's 34-yard touchdown pass to Carson Cox with 36 seconds remaining sent Pleasant Grove to a thrilling 41-38 win over No. 8 Gilmer at Jeff Traylor Stadium, the Buckeyes' first district loss at home since 2001.
“That play call goes to our quarterback coach and head baseball coach Riley Fincher," said Hawks head football coach Josh Gibson. "He came in the huddle and said, ‘I’m telling you, they’re gonna vacate the (middle of the field) when they see (running back Chauncey Martin) on the sweep. We can run a post and hit Carson.’ Me and Riley are going to Shreveport tomorrow, we’re gonna party on that one.”
Gilmer (4-1, 0-1 in District 7-4A Division II), still armed with all three timeouts, managed to reach the Pleasant Grove 14-yard line with five seconds remaining. But Adan Ibarra's 31-yard field goal as time expired sailed wide right, setting the stage for a wild celebration on the Hawks' sideline.
“I’m just so proud of our program, and how much we continue to grow," said Gibson, whose team improved to 6-0 on the season. "There’s not a cap on this team right now, and that one wasn’t easy … holy smokes.”
Gilmer now has two regular-season losses for the first time since 2010.
“I think Carthage and Gilmer are the two premier programs in the state, 1A through 6A, in the last 18 years," Gibson said. "What they’ve both done has been magnificent. Gilmer hasn’t lost a district game at home since 2001, so you tell me how special this is.
"And that’s why I’m so fired up for our kids. I have so much respect for Jeff Traylor, who this stadium is named after. (Gilmer head coach Matt Turner) was here with him, too. They’ve been our model. It’s a proud moment because we just beat our idol.”
Gilmer took a 38-34 lead on Bran Webb's 21-yard touchdown run with 3:34 remaining, but Bruce Garrett's 26-yard kickoff return set the Hawks up at their own 41.
On third-and-14, Martin broke loose for a 16-yard gain with less than a minute remaining. The Hawks took a timeout just before their second-down play from the 34.
Harmon took the snap rolled to his right, and hit Cox down the middle of the field for the go-ahead score on the next snap.
“They were biting with Chauncey because he kept getting big runs there on sweeps, so Coach Fincher made a great call," Harmon said. "We knew the deep post play over the middle was gonna be wide open.”
Harmon, a sophomore, was 4-of-7 for 97 yards, all in the second half.
“Our coaches and players do a good job of keeping me calm," he said. "I was very, very nervous, but I tried to keep my composure and keep it together.”
But it was Pleasant Grove's running game that did most of the heavy lifting. The Hawks racked up 436 yards on the ground, led by Martin, who finished with 219 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
TJ Cole added 127 yards and three touchdowns, while Garrett totaled 77 yards on nine attempts.
“The run game is successful because of all the linemen in front and all the fakes by our unselfish backs, and the kids that are carrying the ball get to benefit from that," Gibson said. "And they run like dudes, they’re special with the ball in their hands. We’ve got a train back there with TJ and a special runner with Chauncey Martin, and an up-and-comer with Bruce as a sophomore.”
Gilmer quarterback Aaron "Poppy" Brown passed for 366 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also led the Buckeyes with 91 yards and a score on 17 carries.
Morgan Lusty caught eight passes for 163 yards in the loss, while Webb added two scoring runs.
Gilmer took its first lead, 24-21, just one minute into the second half when Brown connected with JaMareon Granville for a 39-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing series, Harmon's first completion of the night -- a 36-yard strike to Cox -- set up a 22-yard touchdown run by Cole, which re-gained the lead for the Hawks with 9:27 to play in the third.
Gilmer responded less than two minutes later, getting a 16-yard touchdown run from Webb, which put the Buckeyes in front, 31-28.
Pleasant Grove grabbed the momentum early in the fourth quarter when Tyler Kelley intercepted Brown in the end zone. The Hawks were back in front, 34-31, four plays later on Martin's 57-yard touchdown run.
“It was huge because (Tyler Kelley), they were trying to pick on him a little bit," Gibson said. "He’s an undersized corner so he’s gonna get targets on his back, but he’s one of the toughest and most confident kids in our program. They’re going in to put us down by 10, and he gives us a chance to go down and score and take the lead.”
Gilmer's 70-yard scoring drive on the next possession gave the Buckeyes their final lead of the night.
“This moment means the world to me," said Pleasant Grove senior linebacker and Texas Tech commit Xavier Benson. "Losing my freshman, sophomore and junior year (to Gilmer), I had to get one back. And I won’t be surprised if we see them the fourth round (of the playoffs). They are a good team. I like games like this, it’s not boring. It was a hard-fought game. I love it.”
Pleasant Grove scored on its first three possessions, scoring on a trio of 1-yard runs -- two by Cole and one by Harmon.
Gilmer got a 26-yard field goal by Ibarra, a 50-yard touchdown run by Brown, and 4-yard scoring pass from Brown to Red Jones to cut Pleasant Grove's lead to 21-17 at halftime.
Both teams are back in action next Friday night. Gilmer plays at Gladewater (2-4, 1-0), while Pleasant Grove hosts Atlanta (3-3, 0-1).
“We’ve got a lot of football left, and we’ll probably see these guys down the road again because of how special they are," Gibson said. "But I like where we’re sitting right now.”
Pleasant Grove 41, No. 8 Gilmer 38
At Jeff Traylor Stadium, Gilmer
Pleasant Grove 7 14 7 13 -- 41
Gilmer 3 14 14 7 -- 38
PG--TJ Cole 1 run (Dillon Williams kick), 7:43.
GIL--FG Adan Ibarra 26, 4:06.
PG--Ben Harmon 1 run (Williams kick), 10:05.
GIL--Aaron "Poppy" Brown 50 run (Ibarra kick), 8:26.
PG--Cole 1 run (Williams kick), 5:15.
GIL--Red Jones 4 pass from Brown (Ibarra kick), :56.
GIL--JaMareon Granville 39 pass from Brown (Ibarra kick), 11:00.
PG--Cole 22 run (Williams kick), 9:27.
GIL--Bran Webb 16 run (Ibarra kick), 7:39.
PG--Chauncey Martin 57 run (kick failed), 5:59.
GIL--Webb 21 run (Ibarra kick), 3:34.
PG--Carson Cox 34 pass from Harmon (Williams kick), :36.
First Downs 25 32
Total Yards 533 523
Rushes-Yards 52-436 27-157
Passing Yards 97 366
Comp.-Att.-Int. 4-7-1 27-41-1
Punts-Avg. 2-38.5 2-37.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 10-92 9-85
RUSHING--Pleasant Grove, Chauncey Martin 17-219, TJ Cole 21-127, Bruce Garrett 9-77, Ben Harmon 4-11, James Wiggins 1-2. Gilmer, Aaron "Poppy" Brown 17-91, Bran Webb 6-55, Rashaad Ward 2-11, Braydon Bates 1-3, Red Jones 1-(-3).
PASSING--Pleasant Grove, Harmon 4-7-1--97. Gilmer, Brown 27-41-1--366.
RECEIVING--Pleasant Grove, Carson Cox 3-79, Cole 1-18. Gilmer, Morgan Lusty 8-163, Jones 6-44, Ward 3-42, Qua Heath 3-34, JaMareon Granville 2-40, Webb 2-27, Tra Fluellen 2-15, Bates 1-1.