Third-Ranked Kilgore Knocks off No. 1 Gilmer, 34-29, to Hand Buckeyes’ Second District Loss Since 2001
KILGORE -- The Kilgore Bulldogs did what they do best: run the football and play defense. And that's exactly what it took to deliver them the "District of Doom" championship Friday night.
Kevrin Justice and Davieonta "JuJu" Brown each went over 100 yards rushing, and Kilgore's defense forced a fourth-down incompletion in the final seconds to seal the third-ranked Bulldogs' 34-29 victory over top-ranked Gilmer in front of a packed house at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.
The win gave Kilgore (9-0, 6-0) the District 16-3A title and Gilmer (9-1, 5-1) just its second district loss since 2001.
"It was a great win," said Justice, who finished with a game-high 116 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning 22-yard score with 1:38 remaining. "It's been so long since Kilgore has been a district champ. It feels to good to know we just beat No. 1 Gilmer, so yeah this feels pretty good right now."
Kilgore will play Van (4-6) in a Class 3A Division I Region II bi-district playoff at a site and time to be determined. Gilmer opens up the 3A D-II playoffs against Mineola (5-5) on Thursday night at Tyler's Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Kilgore never strayed from its game plan Friday night. The Bulldogs ran the ball 50 times on the night for 301 yards and their defense forced Gilmer into three first-half turnovers.
But never was Kilgore's identity more evident than in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.
Trailing 29-28 with 5:02 remaining, Kilgore marched 62 yards in eight plays -- all but one on the ground. With less than two minutes remaining, Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor called a timeout with Kilgore facing a first-and-10 from the Buckeyes' 22.
Gilmer's defense returned to the field, but allowed Justice to run untouched into the end zone for the go-ahead score in an effort to give the Buckeyes' offense a chance to get the ball back.
"No I really wasn't surprised," Kilgore coach Mike Wood said of Traylor's decision. "I just knew he was going to put it back on our defense and we would try to stop that offense and what they were doing. We were fortunate."
Gilmer, which still had two timeouts, moved the ball to the Kilgore 42, but a LaDarrin Anthony sacked forced a fourth-and-16 and Barr's pass downfield fell incomplete with 19 seconds remaining to seal the Kilgore win.
"I'm just very excited that we got the win and for it to be in our last game at R.E. St. John, I'm just very excited to come out on top," said Brown, a senior who rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Justice's powerful 10-yard touchdown run, which consisted of the junior running back carrying a host of Gilmer defenders with him the final five yards, and the ensuing two-point conversion gave Kilgore a 28-21 lead with 6:04 remaining.
Gilmer had the answer -- in the form of trickery. On first down at the Kilgore 39, Barr lateraled it to receiver Chase Tate, who connected with a wide-open Desmond Pollard for a touchdown. The Buckeyes lined up for the two-point conversion, which was even more unconventional. Barr pitched the ball to Tate, who flipped it to Jaidon Parrish, who found Barr alone in the end zone to give Gilmer the 29-28 lead with 5:02 to go.
"When you get down to this point you don't save anything and they didn't save anything," Wood said of Gilmer. "We saw a lot of stuff (we haven't) seen, but we're pretty resilient. We bounced back and we did what it took to get a win."
Kilgore's offense took over at its own 38 after the ensuing kickoff.
"That was our only choice; we had to go down and score," Wood said. "I thought our offensive line at the end took the game over and really allowed those backs some holes. They managed it, kept their cool and just kept working."
On third-and-1 at the Gilmer 31, Brown carried it nine yards to set up Justice's game-winning score.
"Coming up short last year, it was a heartbreaker for us," said Justice of 2012's 20-14 loss at Gilmer. "But we knew (this year) it was going to be a tight score. We knew that we were going to have to push it every minute (of the fourth quarter)."
Barr finished the night 27 of 35 for 257 yards and a touchdown for Gilmer, while junior running back Kris Boyd had 149 total yards of offense -- 69 rushing and 80 receiving -- with two touchdowns.
Despite muffing the game's opening kickoff, losing three fumbles and having a field-goal attempt blocked, Gilmer trailed just 20-14 at halftime. The Buckeyes took their first lead of the game on their opening possession of the third quarter when Boyd took it in from nine yards out and Pablin Olivares added the extra point.
The first half was a story of missed opportunities for Gilmer.
Kilgore wasn't able to take advantage of the Buckeyes' fumble on the game's opening kickoff or the Gilmer fumble inside the Bulldogs' 20 on the ensuing drive. But on Gilmer's second possession of the game, Kilgore's Aaron Foy blocked Olivares' 25-yard field goal attempt and teammate Quavion Mumphrey picked up the loose ball and returned it 61 yards to the Gilmer 21. Brown's 14-yard touchdown run on third down gave Kilgore a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
It took Gilmer four plays to find the equalizer when Barr found Boyd on a screen pass, which went for a 47-yard touchdown.
Each team lost fumbles on their next possession, but Gilmer's second lost fumble of the half led to Kilgore's second touchdown of the night when Justice bullied his way into the end zone from two yards out.
"It was great to get those turnovers early and get a lead going into halftime with the ball coming back (to start the second half)," said Kilgore senior linebacker Jake Brantley, who had two fumble recoveries on the night.
Gilmer tied the game on its next series when Tate tossed his first of two touchdown passes -- a 14-yarder to Barr -- with 4:24 remaining in the first half.
Kilgore went to work on the ground. The Bulldogs' 10-play, 72-yard drive was all ground-and-pound with the exception of Colbert's 14-yard touchdown pass to Nick Orange on third down, which gave Kilgore a 20-14 lead -- after a missed extra point -- with nine seconds remaining in the half.
No. 3 Kilgore 34, No. 1 Gilmer 29
R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, Kilgore
Gilmer 7 7 7 8 -- 29
Kilgore 7 13 0 14 -- 34
KIL--Davieonta "JuJu" Brown 14 run (Christian Galvan kick), 2:27.
GIL--Kris Boyd 47 pass from Tanner Barr (Pablin Olivares kick), 1:24.
KIL--Kevrin Justice 2 run (Galvan kick), 6:48.
GIL--Tanner Barr 14 pass from Chase Tate (Olivares kick), 4:24.
KIL--Nick Orange 14 pass from Benny Colbert (kick failed), :09.
GIL--Boyd 9 run (Olivares kick), 5:57.
KIL--Justice 10 run (Jack Johnston pass from Colbert), 6:04.
GIL--Desmond Pollard 39 pass from Tate (Barr pass from Parrish), 5:02.
KIL--Justice 22 run (pass failed), 1:38.
First Downs 20 20
Total Yards 445 377
Rushes-Yards 23-135 50-301
Passing Yards 310 76
Comp.-Att.-Int. 29-37-0 8-12-0
Punts-Avg. 0-0 3-31.7
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 3-1
Penalties-Yards 5-30 8-65
RUSHING--Gilmer, Kris Boyd 8-69, Devondrick Dixon 2-31, Chase Tate 3-18, Tanner Barr 8-15, Josh Walker 2-2. Kilgore, Kevrin Justice 22-116, Davieonta "JuJu" Brown 14-111, Benny Colbert 12-52, Team 1-16, Aaron Foy 1-6.
PASSING--Gilmer, Barr 27-35-0--257, Tate 2-2-0--53. Kilgore, Colbert 8-12-0--76.
RECEIVING--Gilmer, Boyd 7-80, Nick Smith 6-48, Tate 5-53, Desmond Pollard 4-60, Jaidon Parrish 3-31, Barr 1-14, Walker 1-14, Quinn Fluellen 1-5, Darrian Lewis 1-5. Kilgore, Nick Orange 3-17, Foy 3-14, Brown 1-39, Trey Tinney 1-6.