Skip to main content

Carthage 31, Gilmer 28

From the Longview News-Journal:

Bulldogs outduel Buckeyes in playoff showdown

Final - Carthage 31, Gilmer 28

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Carthage Holds Off Late Gilmer Rally

From The Gilmer Mirror:

Carthage ends Buckeyes' season in 31-28 thriller


Carthage Bulldogs' running back Dwight Smith ran over and around the Gilmer Buckeyes for 217 yards and three touchdowns, as the Bulldogs ended the Buckeyes' season with a 31-28 win in the Class 3A Division II Region III Final Saturday night at Homer Bryce Stadium on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.

“It was just a great game between two teams and they just happened to win tonight,” said Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, who led his team to a 12-2 record this season.

Before an estimated 12,000 fans, Smith led the Bulldogs to a commanding 17-point halftime lead over the Buckeyes, then scored the final Bulldogs' touchdown to help hold off a furious Buckeyes' rally in the second half.

Despite entering the game as the state's two top scoring teams, both offenses struggled early. Gilmer's first three possessions ended in three-and-out punts, while Carthage's first two possessions ended in a punt and an interception.

The Buckeyes received the opening kick and managed only eight yards before Luke Turner's punt gave the football to the Bulldogs at the Carthage 37-yard line.

Three plays later, the Buckeyes got a glimpse of what was to come, as Smith blasted through the line from the Gilmer 45-yard line, ran over a defender and scored an apparent touchdown. A holding penalty negated the score, and the Bulldogs were forced to punt four plays later.

The Buckeyes’ second possession wasn't much better than their first; this time gaining nine yards before punting to the Bulldogs' Jalen Claiborne, who returned the punt 10 yards to the Gilmer 45-yard line.

Three plays later, Buckeyes' safety Paul Chesnut intercepted a Si'Darius Blackshire pass at his own 5-yard line and returned it to the Gilmer 25-yard line.

The Buckeyes' offense continued to struggle, as Turner punted again after Gilmer gained only a yard on three plays.

Carthage took possession at their own 34-yard line and on the first snap, Smith broke through the middle of the field, untouched for a 66-yard touchdown with 3:55 to play in the opening quarter. Chris Dickerson kicked the first of four extra points, as Carthage took a 7-0 lead over the Buckeyes.

Gilmer's offense responded with a 6-play, 70-yard drive highlighted by a 47-yard pass from Stump Godfrey to Tristan Holt. Godfrey scored from a yard out, and Adan Olivares kicked the first of four extra points, as the Buckeyes evened the score at 7-7 with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter.

The second quarter was all Carthage.

The Bulldogs next possession was an 11-play drive covering 69 yards that took 3:57 off the clock and ended with a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Blackshire for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 9:17 to go in the second quarter.

Gilmer's next series was a disaster, as the Buckeyes lost four yards on three plays before punting to the Bulldogs.

Carthage's next series ate up 4:55 off the clock as the Bulldogs took 13 plays to go 58 yards before Smith scored on a 2-yard run with 3:26 left in the second quarter to push Carthage's lead to 21-7.

The Buckeyes responded with a drive down to the Bulldogs' 31-yard line before Godfrey was intercepted by the Bulldogs' Cardarius Patterson, giving the ball back to Carthage at the Bulldogs' 8-yard line with only 1:37 to play in the first half.

A 15-yard penalty against the Buckeyes and four big pass completions by Blackshire put the Bulldogs deep into Gilmer territory before the Buckeyes' defense stiffened and forced a 4th and 12 from the 20-yard line with 22 seconds left in the half. Despite struggling on all three extra point kicks, Carthage decided to attempt a 37-yard field goal, and Dickerson rewarded his coach's faith by nailing the field goal for a 24-7 lead at the half.

Traylor said the Buckeyes didn't panic at halftime. “We just made some adjustments that we thought might help in the second half,” Traylor said. “The kids believed in them and went out there and pulled them off.”

The momentum shifted on the second play of the second half when Chesnut picked off Blackshire for the second time, corralling a tipped ball at the Buckeyes' 30-yard line.

Godfrey promptly led the Buckeyes' offense down the field with a spectacular 38-yard run before hitting Kedon Franklin on a 6-yard touchdown pass to make the score 24-14 with 9:27 to play in the third quarter.

Carthage responded with an 8-play, 70-yard drive that took almost four minutes before Smith would score his third touchdown of the game from three yards out to regain the Bulldogs' 17-point advantage with 5:37 remaining in the third quarter.

The two teams traded punts on the next two series, but Gilmer's Tristan Holt fumbled the return back to the Bulldogs deep in Carthage territory at the Bulldogs' 35-yard line. On the very next play the Buckeyes got the football back when Gilmer's Vance Green stripped the football away from Smith and recovered the fumble at the Bulldogs' 40-yard line.

The Buckeyes didn't waste the opportunity, scoring just 55 seconds later when Godfrey hit Zack Jones for a 10-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left in the third quarter, to make the score 31-21.

Carthage replied with another time-consuming drive to the Buckeyes' 5-yard line before Holt made a spectacular one-handed interception in the back corner of the end zone to stop the Bulldogs' scoring threat with 8:45 left in the fourth quarter.

Inspired by the gift from the Black Flag Defense, Gilmer's offense went the 80 yards in 8 plays, thanks in part to a great 34-yard pass and catch from Godfrey to Hunter Harrison on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Godfrey scored on a quarterback keeper from a yard out two plays later to make the score 31-28 with 5:58 to play in the game.

Clinging to a 3-point lead, the Bulldogs took advantage of their huge offensive line and tried to run out the clock, running the football on 10 consecutive plays, eating 4:39 off the clock before both Gilmer and Carthage took timeouts before a crucial fourth down and two from the Gilmer 17-yard line.

Once the two teams lined up for the play that would decide the game, an amazing thing happened according to Traylor. “The greatest thing I've ever seen in sports since I've been coaching was on fourth down when all of our kids stuck their hands out and shook their hands right before the play started. I thought that was the epitome of what sports is about.”

With no chance of stopping the clock if the Bulldogs got the first down, the Black Flag Defense came up with one of their most spectacular stops of the season when Smith was stopped a yard short of the first down marker.

“There is no way we should have stopped those guys on fourth down and two,” admitted Traylor. “They were just so much physically bigger. I'm just so proud of my kids.”

Armed with the football at their own 16-yard line with 1:14 left to play, Godfrey looked determined to lead the Buckeyes to a field goal to send the game into overtime. Godfrey hit Harrison for 11 yards, then ran for another seven yards to the 34-yard line. But on the next play, Godfrey's pass was intercepted by the Bulldogs' Cortlyn Ware at the 45-yard line and returned to the Gilmer 5-yard line before being knocked out of bounds with 36 seconds to play.

Blackshire took a knee to end the game before a stunned Buckeyes team. “We started driving and it looked like we were going to get a field goal and get to go to overtime and that didn't happen. So our kids got a small sampling of the highs of life and the lows of life in about a one minute span,” Traylor said.

“We could have shut down so many times, but our kids just wouldn't go away,” said Traylor. “That's a credit to their parents, our community, and our program. I've never been prouder to be the head coach of the Gilmer Buckeyes than I am right now just because of their effort in the second half.”


Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S PAUL CHESNUT (11) returns the first of his two interceptions last Saturday night during the Gilmer Buckeyes’ Class 3A Division II Region III Final against the Carthage Bulldogs at Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYES CLOSE in on Carthage’s Dwight Smith (22) as they hold the back on fourth and two to take possession of the ball one more time in the quarterfinal game at Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S STUMP GODFREY takes aim at Carthage’s Kyle Deaton as he drives to a tying score in first quarter action last Saturday night.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
TRISTAN HOLT celebrates with Darian “Stump” Godfrey (10) after Holt had intercepted yet another Carthage pass. Other Buckeyes in the photo are Vance Green (8), Braylon Webb (6), Marlon Granville (20) and D.J. Stanley (12). Carthage survived a furious rally by the Buckeyes in the second half to edge out Gilmer, 31-28. The Buckeyes finished the season with a 12-2 record after winning their district in undefeated fashion for the eighth consecutive year and then three playoff games. The Gilmer Buckeyes under the leadership of Head Coach Jeff Traylor and his staff are now 97-17 since 2000 and most of the young 2008 team will be back next season to take up where this one left off.


Buckeyes vs Carthage

Buckeyes vs Carthage Bulldogs

East Texas Football - Regional Finals - Dec. 6, 2008


eamon said…
I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Popular posts from this blog

Buckeyes face La Vega in second round of playoffs

Buckeyes Remain Perfect

Directions to Mesquite Memorial Stadium

Kickoff is at 2 p.m.
Listen Live at


With only 16 teams left in the Class 3A Division I playoffs, the Gilmer Buckeyes are just one of many teams with impressive résumés.

“They’re all good this time of the year,” stated Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, who has led his alma mater to a 108-17 record and one state championship in his 10 years at the helm of the Buckeyes.

Take La Vega, the Buckeyes’ opponent Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Mesquite. The Pirates have gone at least three rounds deep in the playoffs every year since 2006, sporting an impressive 10-3 playoff record in that span.

“We do have some experience and tradition,” admitted La Vega head coach Willie Williams, who has a 135-84-2 record in his 20th season as Pirates’ head coach.

Like Traylor, Williams is coaching in his hometown. “This is the only place I’ve known. I graduated from here and I’ve coached here for 27 years. I’ve never coache…