GILMER — Gilmer Buckeyes quarterback Jordan Traylor flung five touchdowns while his defensive mates seized a stupefying seven takeaways as the fourth-ranked unconquered Gilmer Buckeyes procured the District 16-3A blue ribbon by hoisting the ninth-ranked defending state champion Henderson Lions, 35-20, at Buckeye Stadium Friday night.
Gilmer (9-0, 4-0) resurged from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to bank 35 points before the Lions (7-2, 3-2) could tally again in the fourth quarter, making a game of it for part of the final period.
Traylor, a senior, was making only his second start at quarterback since Buckeye field general Luke Turner suffered a season-ending ankle injury. And the son of head coach Jeff Traylor made the most of the moment, completing 17 of 29 airmail packages for 248 yards despite surrendering two interceptions.
In the meantime, the “Black Flag Defense” hounded usually-adept Henderson quarterback LaBradford Barnes into disgorging four interceptions and three lost fumbles —with four of the takeaways eventually clearing the friendly skies for Traylor TD throws.
At first it appeared this would be Henderson’s night. On the game’s opening offensive, Gilmer’s Josh Walker fumbled to the visitors at the Gilmer 41, and Henderson bounded to TD territory in just five plays with Travon Roquemore scoring on a 5-yard hop.
William Mann airlifted the first of his two PATs with 8:10 left in the first.
After a dazzling punt return, Henderson hastened 33 yards in only two plays to score on its next offensive outing, with Jay O’Neal pocketing the points on a remarkably easy 25-yard dash with 6:05 left in the first.
But Gilmer’s offense was finally galvanized, and plodded 76 yards in nine plays to score on Traylor’s 36-yard, fourth-down heave to Darrion Pollard. Kicker Pablin Olivares launched the first of his five successful PATs with 2:24 left in the first.
Gilmer blocked Mann’s 26-yard field-goal try with 10:40 left in the second period.
Then the final 46.5 seconds of the half were a wow.
After Tanner Barr picked a Barnes pass, the Buckeyes concluded a 68-yard, 13-play hike with Traylor’s 4-yard TD pass to Gavin Holt. Then, after Colton Hill snatched another interception, the Buckeyes hit the scoreboard with a stunner.
Traylor fired to Walker, who caught the ball and pitched it on the “hook-and-ladder” to Holt. Walker had gulped the first 14 yards of the play, and Holt covered the last 25 to tot up a flabbergasting 39-yard TD trick with only 7.7 seconds left to twirling time.
Up 21-14 as the bands played, Gilmer lengthened its lead after Barnes fumbled to Gilmer’s Xavier Fluellen at the visitors’ 37. Greatly abetted by a 15-yard penalty, the Buckeyes wheeled to Beulah Land in only five plays, as Traylor hit Traylon Webb with a fourth-down 19-yard TD with 1:07 left in the third.
And when Barnes dispensed yet another fumble to the hosts at the Gilmer 42 on the final quarter’s opening play, the Buckeyes capitalized on that, too, scoring five plays later when Pollard took a short Traylor toss and turned it into a 36-yard scoring sling with 9:20 left.
On the second play after the ensuing kickoff, Barnes hit the jackpot with a 49-yard TD throw to LaMarcus Brown, who was a thorn in the Buckeyes’ heels throughout the evening. A run for two points off a feigned kick failed with 9:01 left, and Barnes would hurl two more interceptions to snuff any hopes of a Lion comeback.
No. 4 Gilmer 35, No. 9 Henderson 20
At Buckeye Stadium, Gilmer
Henderson 14 0 0 6 — 20
Gilmer 7 14 7 7 — 35
HEN—Travon Roquemore 5 run (William Mann kick), 8:10.
HEN—Jay O’Neal 25 run (Mann kick), 6:05.
GIL—Darrion Pollard 36 pass from Jordan Traylor (Pablin Olivares kick).
GIL—Gavin Holt 4 pass from Traylor (Olivares kick), :46.
GIL—Holt 25 pass from Traylor (Olivares kick), :07.
GIL—Traylon Webb 19 pass from Traylor (Olivares kick), 1:07.
GIL—Darrion Pollard 36 pass from Traylor (Olivares kick), 9:20.
HEN—LaMarcus Brown 49 pass from Del Barnes (run failed), 9:01.
First Downs 10 18
Rushes-Yards 20-36 46-149
Comp.-Att.-Int. 14-25-4 17-26-2
Passing Yards 196 275
Penalties-Yards 11-99 545
Fumbles-Lost 4-3 1-1
Punts-Avg. 2-30 2-24.5
RUSHING—Henderson, Jay O’Neal 9-48, LaMarcus Brown 2-18, Patrick Brown 1-14, Jamaal Kind 2-5, Travon Roquemore 1-5, Del Barnes 5-(-34), Team 1-20. Gilmer, Gavin Holt 28-113, Chase Tate 9-37, Darrion Pollard 5-13, Jordan Traylor 3-(-14), Trey Washington 1-0.
PASSING—Henderson, Barnes 14-25-4—196. Gilmer, Traylor 17-26-2—275.
RECEIVING—Henderson, L. Brown 9-160, O’Neal 2-7, Arquez Walton 1-19, P. Brown 1-8, Jamie Anthony 1-2. Gilmer, Pollard 7-135, Holt 3-77, Eddie Fluellen 3-16, Traylon Webb 2-46, Josh Walker 1-4, Tate 1-(-3), Jaidon Parrish 1-0.