GILMER — A late push from Gilmer wasn't enough to overcome a fast start from Paris on Friday night.
With a 14-0 lead after the first quarter, including a 7-0 start on the first play of the game, Paris used its punishing run game to take a 37-20 win over Gilmer on homecoming night at Jeff Traylor Stadium.
The loss is the first of the season for the Buckeyes, who head to Carthage on their next stop of a gauntlet of a non-district slate at 2-1. Paris, who dropped its season opener to the Buckeyes' District 6-4A, Division II foe and state power Pleasant Grove, improves to 2-1 on the season.
Trailing by 23 points at halftime and again early in the third quarter, Gilmer's defense stood tall late as the Buckeyes trimmed the lead to 10 points, 30-20, with 4:49 to play.
However, the Paris ground game, led by a 179-yard, two-touchdown night from Zy'Kius Jackson, was too much to overcome. Paris finished with 304 rushing yards on 52 carries and used the passing game strategically from its Slot-T offense for 80 yards.
Credit a fast and physical Paris defense as well, led by nose guard Ashton Milton, that held Gilmer to 51 rushing yards on 24 carries.
For Gilmer, sophomore Brandon Tennison finished with 30 yards in spot time at quarterback, including a three-yard touchdown. DJ Shead added the Buckeyes' second rushing touchdown on a six-yard run.
Junior quarterback Mason Hurt finished 12-of-27 for 171 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown to Eddie Ray, who finished with 65 receiving yards. Hurt was picked off twice in the first half in the loss.
Dylan Fluellen led the Buckeye receivers with five catches for 82 yards.
Paris' Bubba Gray picked off the first snap of the night and raced 30 yards to the endzone with 11 seconds expired.
The Wildcats closed the opening quarter on the scoreboard as well with quarterback Luke Hohenberger racing 27 yards to the endzone for a 14-0 lead.
Ray had a 58-yard kickoff return to start the second quarter before stepping out of bounds. Hurt was picked off for the second time of the night, this time by Kentraevious Johnson in the endzone.
Jackson opened his scoring with an 11-yard run and, after a Gilmer three-and-out, Bryan Ramirez made it 23-0 at halftime with a 31-yard field goal.
The Buckeyes finished 4-of-12 on third down with the first conversion coming midway through the third quarter.
Opportunity knocked for the Buckeyes on a Paris fumble on the kickoff to start the third quarter. That set up Shead's six-yard run on the short field to put Gimer on the board.
Paris answered quickly on Jackson's second score with 9:35 left in the third.
The Buckeye defense, led by a standout night from Grant Couture, forced a punt and two turnovers on downs from there.
Hurt's 33-yard hook-up with Ray on fourth down made it 30-13 and Tennison trimmed it to 10 with 4:49 left to cap an 11-play, 73-yard drive.
Paris then converted a fourth-and-three near midfield and KD Washington closed the comeback attempt with a four-yard touchdown.