TEXARKANA — The Gilmer Buckeyes filched Hollywood’s old show business adage Friday night: you have a heck of an opening, a heck of a closing, and you coast in between.
Unvanquished sixth-ranked Gilmer reached touchdown territory on its opening possession, then waited until the final 5:20 to add its other two TDs and finally lash the stubborn Liberty-Eylau Leopards, 21-7, at Harris Field.
Gavin Holt finally padlocked the outcome when the Gilmer defense fiercely descended upon L-E quarterback Rashaan Donelson, who disgorged a fumble that Holt returned 25 yards for the final TD with just 45.5 seconds left.
It was the fourth takeaway seized by Gilmer’s Black Flag defense as the Buckeyes totted up their sixth straight triumph over L-E.
The Buckeyes had gotten off to a starry start, taking the opening kickoff and plodding 71 yards in 12 time-chomping plays to tally on quarterback Luke Turner’s 3-yard toss to Holt.
Pablin Olivares airlifted the first of his three PATs with 6:47 left in the first quarter.
But L-E launched a stupefying counterattack on the ensuing kickoff as Davion Hall whizzed 91 yards down the right side for the Leopards’ lone TD all night.
Cody Tucker’s kick knotted it 7-7 with 6:33 left in the first.
After that, the contest turned into a turnover trade show with each team dispensing two before twirling time. But L-E ceded the only two turnovers of the second half, and both proved devastating to the hosts.
Meanwhile, after completing six of his first seven passes, Turner finished the night only 9 of 22 for 119 yards, a TD, and one interception.
But he also dashed 90 yards on 21 deliveries, including a 6-yard TD trek up the middle with only 5:20 left in the contest.
That polished off a Gilmer possession which seemingly lasted as long as an old time double feature at the movies. The Buckeyes inched 96 yards in 17 plays in gulfing 6:25 off the clock.
Down 14-7, L-E gamely returned the ensuing kickoff to its 39, but Gilmer’s Traylon Webb promptly purloined a Donelson heave at the Gilmer 16.
Gilmer notched a first down, punted, and the Leopards reached their 47 before Donelson was sacked for a 7-yard loss. On the next play, he was struck, fumbled backward, and Holt took the pigskin in.
A key factor in Gilmer’s fourth-quarter resurgence was runner Jeremy McMillian. After obtaining only 15 yards on three carries before halftime, he devoured 52 yards on seven dashes in the fourth quarter.
Gilmer (4-0) host Daingerfield in the Buckeyes’ first home game this season next Friday.
L-E meanwhile drooped to 2-2.