DALLAS — The No. 1-ranked Argyle Eagles’ running back Ian Sadler saddled up like a steed here Friday night, resembling a Kentucky Derby entrant as he galloped the No. 3-rated Gilmer Buckeyes right out of playoff paradise.
Sadler scored five touchdowns, four by land and one by reception, as Argyle nosed out Gilmer in an ode to offense, 45-38, in a Class 3A Division II regional semifinal at John E. Kincaide Stadium.
It was the third time Argyle has ousted the Buckeyes from post-season play in the last four seasons, with Gilmer triumphing only last year.
But this thriller went nearly to the wire as the lead repeatedly changed hands.
Sadler was a workhorse, plowing 178 yards on 28 deliveries while teammate Nick Ralston also roasted the Buckeyes with 125 land yards on 13 rushes.
Gilmer (12-2), plagued by overthrown and dropped aerials, nonetheless was fair in the air as quarterback Todd Barr fired four scoring slings and hoofed for another TD. He completed 22 of 41 for 290 yards, dispensing one interception.
Gilmer started swiftly after forcing Argyle (13-0) to punt on the clash’s opening possession. The Buckeyes screamed 79 yards in only five plays, tallying on Barr’s 15-yard fling to Jaidon Parrish.
Pablin Olivares airlifted the first of five straight PATs with 7:32 left in the first.
But then a Buckeye bobble enabled the Eagles to tie it. Argyle’s Drew Estrada purloined a Barr pass, returned it to the Gilmer 29, and on the second play afterward, quarterback Brandon Boyzuick shipped Sadler a 29-yard TD.
Star placekicker Chad Hedlund clanged the first of six straight PATs with 4:36 left in the first.
And from there, Argyle seized the throttle thoroughly for a while, scoring
14 straight points. First, the Eagles flew 53 yards in eight plays, scoring on Boyzuick’s 10-yard airmail to Jon Pucciarello with 9:43 left in the second quarter.
And after an 18-yard Buckeye punt, Argyle bounded 42 yards in only three plays as Sadler hurdled two defenders at the goal line on a 29-yard hop with 6:52 left to halftime.
Gilmer quickly stormed back, charging 81 yards in only five plays to score on a big bang by Barr — a 65-yard run with 5:17 to go in the half.
Then Argyle erred as Reese Thompson fumbled the ensuing kickoff to Gilmer’s Kelton Collier at the Eagle 18. After drawing a 5-yard penalty, the Buckeyes plodded to score in seven plays (and a half-yard penalty against Argyle) as Barr lofted a fourth down 1-yard pass to Josh Walker with 1:41 remaining to halftime.
Having beheld its 21-7 lead vanish, Argyle counterpunched, rolling 50 yards in only seven plays to the Gilmer 24 before Hedlund ended the half with a 41-yard field goal to put his team up 24-21 at twirling time.
But Gilmer opened fire quickly to start the second half, taking the kickoff and inching 87 yards in 13 plays to tally on Barr’s 10-yard screen pass to Darrien Lewis with 7:50 left in the third.
Then Argyle returned fire, promptly rumbling 64 yards in 11 plays as Sadler scored on an 8-yard hop with 3:31 left in the third.
Leading 31-28, Argyle lengthened the lead on Sadler’s 5-yard rumble around left end with 8:07 left in the game. That finished a 67-yard roll highlighted by Ralston’s 58-yard run and a subsequent 4-yard penalty against the Buckeyes on the play.
Gilmer plodded downfield to a 35-yard field goal by Olivares with 4:52 left, slicing Argyle’s lead to 38-31.
But Gilmer unsuccessfully kicked onside, and the Eagles padlocked the outcome by trooping 47 yards in six plays to tally on Sadler’s 16-yard bound with 2:19 left.
However, Gilmer refused to cede the verdict, blowing 56 yards to score on Barr’s 22-yard pass to Kris Boyd with 1:35 left. But yet another onside kick failed and the Eagles made two first downs in running out the clock.