TATUM - The Diboll Lumberjacks’ chainsaws couldn’t collar Collier on Thursday night.
Gilmer Buckeyes running back Kelton Collier hoofed for four touchdowns as heavily favored Gilmer finally polaxed the game-but-outmanned Lumberjacks, 50-28, in a Class 4A Division II bi-district dustup at Tatum Eagle Stadium that was a tad more dramatic than the score appears.
Decided underdog Diboll (2-9) foisted admirable angst upon the Buckeyes (10-1), tallying two TDs in a 24-second span in the fourth quarter to pull within 43-28 with 6:33 left. But Collier wheeled 9 yards for his final score with 2:33 left, somewhat cementing the crypt of the Lumberjacks.
The Buckeyes advance to meet Melissa (8-3) next week in the area round of the playoffs. The Cardinals defeated Dallas Lincoln 36-14 on Thursday at Memorial Stadium in Mesquite.
Gilmer had totted up a 21-7 lead at twirling time, and shot from the launching pad swiftly, scoring within the contest’s opening minute. After taking the kickoff and immediately incurring a 5-yard penalty, the Buckeyes swooped 63 yards in only four plays to score on Collier’s 6-yard romp.
Adan Ibarra airlifted the first of six PATs with 11:03 left in the first quarter.
After forcing a punt, the Buckeyes buzzed into Beulah Land again, but required 15 yards to plod 69 yards this time with quarterback Aaron “Poppy” Brown flinging a 6-yard scoring sling to LaMarcus Morton with 2:53 left in the first period.
After Ibarra misfired wide left on a 26-yard field goal attempt with 10:28 left to halftime, Diboll recuperated momentarily, promptly striding 80 yards in nine plays to procure the TD on Desmond Shelby’s 7-yard hop with 6:29 remaining in the second quarter. Valentin Solano toed the first of two successful PATs.
But the Buckeyes’ offense soon resumed speed after returning a punt to the Lumberjacks’ 34. Diboll drew two penalties totaling 20 yards before Collier thundered 14 yards to the TD with 2:36 left to the musical break.
Gilmer suffered a pratfall with 7:55 left in the third period when the Buckeyes trooped to the Diboll 5, only to behold Lumberjack Jeremiah Settler purloin a pass from Brown. But Gilmer rapidly recovered, quickly forcing a punt before runner Rashaad Ward rumbled 11 yards for another Buckeye TD with 6:40 left in the third. Gilmer then notched a 2-point conversion on the swinging gate play as Kameryn Cuevas ran for the points, making it 29-7.
And it appeared the Buckeyes were en route to a rout when Collier gunned four yards for another tally with 4:16 left in the third. But Diboll counter-punched, hiking 74 yards in eight plays to score on a fourth-down 13-yard pass from quarterback Nathan Garcia to Jermarcus White, who made a leaping catch with 0:44 left in the third before Solano’s PAT kick failed.
Gilmer ran it up to 43-13 as Brown zipped a 11-yard TD toss to Cuevas with 10:20 left. But Diboll, seemingly hopelessly behind, suddenly burst back into the contest.
The Lumberjacks landed another six-pointer on runner Desmond Shelby’s 1-yard TD trip with 6:57 left in the game. Garcia ran for the conversion. And on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, a show-stopper smacked the Buckeyes in their collective jaw.
Brown completed a throw to Red Jones, who fumbled the pigskin, allowing Diboll defender Tyler Nichols to haul it 27 yards for a TD. Suddenly it was 43-28, but Collier’s final TD quelled the comeback.