MESQUITE - 'Twas the type of payback that even a bank would be required to relinquish receiving.
The Gilmer Buckeyes, booted from the playoffs last year by the Celina Bobcats, avenged that loss largely through the heavy hand of quarterback Aaron (Poppy) Brown, who incinerated his foes by flinging four touchdown tosses as Gilmer charred Celina 43-17 in a Class 4A Division II quarterfinal playoff Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
The triumph vaulted Gilmer (13-1) into a semifinal struggle with Sweetwater, a 38-14 winner over Seminole on Friday night, to be held next Friday at McLane Stadium in Waco.
Celina concluded its campaign at 11-3.
After a scoreless, rainy first quarter, Gilmer totted up a 29-10 lead at twirling time en route to its third playoff triumph over Celina in four meetings since 2003.
Celina's Eduardo Paulino strayed a 39-yard field goal attempt in the first period afore the second quarter turned into an ode to offense. Each squad scored a TD in the first minute of the period but Gilmer, trailing 7-0, detonated the dam on the Bobcats with 29 consecutive points until Paulino clanged in a 33-yard field goal as the half expired.
Celina struck oil on the second quarter's initial play as runner Ismael Ortiz barged into the end zone from 1 yard out, concluding a marathon 67-yard, 15-play offensive in which the Bobcats surmounted a 5-yard penalty. Paulino missed the PAT kick, but procured a successful do-over when Gilmer was penalized for having too many men on the field, making it 7-0 with 11:56 left to halftime.
However, the Buckeyes hit the rapid response button, scooting 65 yards in three plays to tally. Fueled by a 63-yard pass from Brown to LaMarcus Morton that went to the Celina 2, Gilmer scored on the second play afterward when Kelton Collier zipped around right end from 2 yards out.
Adan Ibarra airlifted the first of his five successful PATs with 11:01 remaining to music time.
Collier procured Gilmer's next points on a stupefying, tackle-breaking 27-yard burst with 7:43 left in the half, culminating an 85-yard offensive.
The Buckeyes tallied next on Brown's 32-yard chunk to Morton with 6:04 still remaining in the quarter, winding up a 62-yard movement to scoring soil that was abetted by a 15-yard Celina penalty. Kameryn Cuevas ran for two points, making it 22-7.
Then Brown and Morton played the dangerous duo again, connecting on a 45-yard scoring sling with 57 seconds left to the band break.
Celina accepted the second-half kickoff and moved ably until John Franklin fumbled to the Buckeyes at their 28. From there, Gilmer launched another six-point sortie, eventually tallying on Brown's 38-yard airmail package to Cuevas, who broke a tackle and shot down the left sideline at warp speed with 6:37 left in the third.
Celina counter-punched with another time-devouring possession, finally reaching Beulah Land on quarterback Conner Pingleton's 3-yard pass to Ortiz with 3:03 left in the third. Paulino clanged in the PAT.
But the Buckeyes recovered an onside kick, had their next possession kept alive on a Celina penalty that nullified a punt and Brown opened the bomb chute again with a 29-yard TD to Qua Heath with 28 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Celina reached the Gilmer 13 early in the scoreless fourth period, but was halted on downs.