MESQUITE - Thriving on a tsunami of takeaways, the unconquered defending state champion Gilmer Buckeyes maimed the Mexia Blackcats, 63-14, Friday in a Class 4A Division II Area war game at Memorial Stadium.
Gilmer (12-0), which was nearly pushed from playoff paradise by disgorging seven turnovers the prior week, did an about face by filching five this time, returning two for TDs and setting up four other tallies with takeaways. That helped hand the Buckeyes their 28th consecutive conquest.
Gilmer's Kollin Hurt particularly put the hurt on the Blackcats by purloining three Jaylen Gipson passes, returning one for a touchdown and snaring a scoring sling on offense.
Gilmer opened scoring on the first of quarterback Zac Spears' three TD tosses, a 32-yarder to Red Jones with 5:29 left in the first quarter. Juan Esquivel airlifted the first of six successful PATs, missing only one.
The Buckeyes tallied next on Spears' 10-yard aerial to Hurt with 1:30 left in the first. Demarco Boyd ran for the two-point conversion.
Immediately after Hurt returned a pickoff 26 yards, Gilmer's Devin Smith raced 19 yards to score with 7:14 left in the second period.
Gilmer's Cambron Granville huffed 1 yard for the next TD with 2:51 left in the half after another Hurt interception.
Spears then lofted a 68-yard six-point sling to Jones with 57 seconds remain to the break. But Mexia averted a first-half shutout when Gipson heaved a 45-yard bomb to Case Adair on the half's final play. Alan Carbajal hammered the first of two PATs to make it 36-7 at twirling time.
In the third quarter, Mexia punter Jessie Torres fumbled a bad snap and Gilmer's Zod Heath returned the bobble 26 yards to score with 7:41 left.
Soon after an interception by Smith, Boyd trucked four yards for another TD with 3:42 left in the third.
Then Hurt legged 84 yards on an interception return to score with 11:42 left in the game.
Gilmer's final TD came on Trendon Brooks' 19-yard sprint soon after an interception by Kambryn Cuevas. Jacob Johnston lifted the PAT with 9:17 left.
Mexia's last hurrah was Gipson's 10-yard TD toss to Matron Gerald with 5:55 left.
Gilmer 63, Mexia 14
Mexia 0 7 0 7 - 14
Gilmer 15 21 14 13 - 63