From the Longview News-Journal:
Buckeyes finish strong, subdue Navasota, 42-35
From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:
Godfrey, Gilmer Hold Off Navasota, 42-35
From The Eagle (Bryan-College Station):
Navasota knocked out by Gilmer
From the Victoria Advocate:
Gilmer takes down Navasota, sets up matchup with Cuero in Huntsville
From KLTV (2:40 in):
From ArkLaTex Hompage.com:
Gilmer Moves Onto Semi's
Gilmer Outscores Navasota
Game of the week
Gilmer 42, Navasota 35
The Buckeyes (13-0) survived their toughest test to date, getting a key fourth-down stop by Ben Griffith with 6:40 left to set up a clinching 70-yard touchdown drive. The Rattlers (9-3) had battled Gilmer to a 28-28 halftime tie, but lost RB/LB standout Antoine Burrell to a third-quarter injury. Next up for Gilmer: Cuero, at 6 p.m. Saturday in a state semifinal at Bowers Stadium in Huntsville.
Watch Ben Griffith's stop
From The Gilmer Mirror:
Buckeyes survive scare from Navasota
By JOE DODD
On the way to the Class 3A Division I Region III Final, one of the top-ranked Gilmer Buckeyes’ chartered buses had a flat tire. With a halftime score of 28-28, some Buckeyes’ fans wondered if the Gilmer defense had made it to the game.
The Buckeyes’ Black Flag Defense made their presence known in the second half, shutting out the Navasota Rattlers until the final minute, and leading Gilmer to a 42-35 win and a berth into the state semifinals.
“I tried to use it as a teaching moment,” said Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor when asked about the flat tire. “I told them that in this game there was going to be some broken-down buses, and it’s how we handle this broken-down bus that’s going to matter.”
The Buckeyes won the coin toss and elected to receive the kick. Characteristically, Gilmer scored on their first possession. Uncharacteristically, it took the Buckeyes 4:05 and 10 plays to score. Stump Godfrey connected with Luke Turner on a 13-yard touchdown pass and Adan Olivares’ kicked the first of 6 successful extra points for a 7-0 Gilmer lead with 7:55 to play in the first quarter.
Navasota responded with a Gilmer-like scoring drive, covering 77 yards in six plays and using only 2:15 off the clock. Rattlers’ quarterback Kye Hildreth capped off the drive with a 27-yard touchdown run up the middle of the Buckeyes’ defense to tie the score 7-7 with 5:40 left in the opening quarter.
Gilmer responded with another long drive, taking 4:45 off the clock and covering 80 yards in 14 plays, including converting three third downs and one fourth down to keep the drive alive. Godfrey capped the drive with a perfect 16-yard touchdown pass to Daniel McLaren to take a 14-7 lead with only 55 seconds to go in the first quarter. The scoring drive proved costly for the Buckeyes, as receiver Tristan Holt suffered an ankle injury and did not return to the game.
“We felt a little pressure because they could score quickly,” admitted McLaren, who finished the game with two receptions for 26 yards.
The Rattlers continued to answer with lightning quick precision, covering 73 yards in five plays and using only 1:57 off the clock to tie the game with Hildreth’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Collins with 10:58 to go in the second quarter.
The Buckeyes did not answer Navasota’s score on their next series, giving the football back to the rattlers at the Gilmer 30-yard line thanks to a Godfrey sack on fourth down.
Navasota took advantage of the Buckeyes’ gift six plays later when Hildreth ran for a 7-yard touchdown and a 21-14 lead with 8:09 left in the second quarter.
Gilmer responded with a more characteristic 60-yard, 7-play scoring drive that took only 2:38 off the clock. The drive ended with another Godfrey to Turner touchdown pass, this time from 18 yards out, to tie the score 21-21 with 5:31 to play in the second quarter.
The Buckeyes tried to surprise the Rattlers with an onside kick on the following kickoff, but Olivares’ bouncing kick eluded Kedon Franklin’s grasp and went out of bounds at the Navasota 46-yard line. After a 5-yard penalty for the out-of-bounds kick, the Rattlers took over at the Gilmer 49-yard line.
Navasota’s Antoin Burrell gave the Rattlers a 28-21 lead with his 5-yard touchdown run just seven plays later.
The Buckeyes could not respond, as the Rattlers’ defense forced a three-and-out punt. Luke Turner’s punt was a 52-yard boomer that pinned Navasota back at their 14-yard line.
After Hildreth ran for a 6-yard gain on the first play, Gilmer called a timeout with 1:56 to play in the first half. Despite allowing 234 yards and four touchdowns on Navasota’s first four possessions, Traylor gambled that his defense would stop the Rattlers and wanted more time for his offense to try to tie the score before halftime.
“I knew they were going to get the ball first in the second half and I didn’t want them to go up 14 points on us,” reasoned Traylor.
The Buckeyes’ defense rewarded Traylor’s confidence, forcing Navasota’s first punt of the game three plays later. “You’ve got to believe in those kids,” said Traylor. “Our defense has been great all year. I believed in my coaches and in my kids, and they got it done for me.”
Gilmer’s Paul Chesnut’s 17-yard return gave the Gilmer offense great field position at the Rattlers’ 49-yard line. “Paul’s punt return to give us field position was huge,” praised Traylor. Six plays later, Godfrey hit Marlon Granville with a 6-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 28-28 with only 37 seconds left until halftime.
“We knew that if we scored and tied it up before half we would have a ball game,” said Godfrey.
Gilmer defensive tackle Luis Castro, who finished the game with 12 tackles, admitted that the Buckeyes’ defense was stunned at Navasota’s offensive success. “It was scary,” said Castro. “We’ve never had that feeling the whole year. It was scary.”
Traylor was quick to credit the Rattlers for their first half performance. “Offensively, they were just in another league,” said Traylor. “Their offensive line was so big. Two good running backs, two good receivers, a good quarterback, a great offensive line, and a great coach, that’s hard to stop.”
But the Buckeyes’ defense did just that for almost the entire second half, holding the Rattlers scoreless on their first four possessions. “We knew sooner or later that the defense was going to step up, and they stepped up in the second half,” said Godfrey.
“Our defensive staff did an amazing job, and our kids just kept making play after play,” said Traylor, who saw his career record go to 110-17 with the victory.
“Gilmer did a tremendous job in the second half getting off blocks a lot better,” said Navasota head coach Lee Fedora. “At the beginning of the game we were able to get our hands on them and stay on them and open creases.”
Despite a three-and-out series on their first possession of the second half, the Buckeyes’ Luke Turner’s punts continued to hurt the Rattlers. Turner’s second punt of the game traveled 52 yards, and pinned Navasota back at their 20-yard line.
The Buckeyes defense dominated the Rattlers’ second possession of the half, with Chris Miller sacking Hildreth for a 7-yard loss on third down, forcing a third straight Navasota punt, this time from inside the end zone.
Chesnut fielded the punt at the Rattlers’ 48-yard line and returned it to the 30-yard line, giving Gilmer their best field position of the game. The Buckeyes scored four plays later when Godfrey rolled to his right looking to pass, then abruptly cut back to his left and scooted seven yards untouched for a touchdown and a 35-28 lead with 4:42 to play in the third quarter.
“That was his third option. He was looking for receivers first and second and run was his third choice,” explained Traylor about Godfrey’s touchdown run. “He went to his third option probably 12 times in the game. He played unbelievable. Best I’ve ever seen him play.”
Godfrey finished the game with 175 yards and four touchdowns passing to go along with his touchdown and 83 yards rushing.
Navasota’s next series took 4:30 off the clock, but advanced only 29 yards on eight plays before the Rattlers were forced to punt for the 4th consecutive possession. Hildreth’s punt rolled out at the 1-yard line, pinning the Buckeyes against their own goal line.
Despite picking up nine yards on the first three plays, the Buckeyes decided to play it safe on fourth and one, allowing Turner to punt for the third time. Once again Turner’s punt was a beauty, this time traveling 58 yards to the Navasota 32-yard line.
The Rattlers took it to the Buckeyes’ 34-yard line where they faced a crucial fourth down with 5 yards to go. Hildreth hit Thomas Sweed in the right flat, where it appeared Sweed would easily pick up the first down. But at the last possible second, Gilmer’s Ben Griffith collided with Sweed and dropped him immediately with a ferocious hit.
Unable to determine if the play was enough for a Rattlers’ first down, game officials called a time out to measure. “I didn’t know that it was that close until I looked up and saw the first down marker on the ground,” said Griffith, who celebrated wildly with his teammates when officials signaled a Gilmer first down at the Buckeyes’ 30-yard line.
“The kid from Gilmer did an outstanding job getting the tackle and making us a half-yard short. That’s how games are; a game of inches,” said Navasota’s Fedora.
Traylor agreed with Fedora. “Ben’s hit on fourth down might have been the play of the year,” Traylor stated.
Fueled by the defensive stop, the Buckeyes’ offense proceeded on a 70-yard, 9-play drive that ate 4:56 off the clock. Granville did most of the damage, gaining 59 yards on 7 carries, and scoring on a 1-yard run with 1:44 to play in the game, giving Gilmer a 42-28 lead.
Granville was pressed into service as the feature back because of injuries to Gus Osborne and Vance Green that forced Osborne to miss the game, and Green to only eight carries. “They were hurt and I was the healthiest, so I went out and did what I could,” said Granville, who finished with 89 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries to along with his touchdown reception.
“We just keep having different kids step up,” marveled Traylor. “It’s unbelievable the number of different receivers and running backs we’ve had step up.”
The Rattlers tried to make it interesting the final 1:44, finally getting back on the scoreboard with a 75-yard scoring drive helped in large part by 30 yards in penalties against the Buckeyes’ defense, including a bogus interference penalty against Gilmer on a fourth down that kept the drive alive. On the next play, Hildreth hit Sweed on a 26-yard touchdown with only 36 seconds left on the clock to make the score 42-35.
The Rattlers’ recovered the ensuing onside kick, but were flagged for being offside on the kick, and forced to re-kick. This time, the Buckeyes recovered the football and ran out the remaining time on the clock to seal the win.
“It was two great football teams playing and giving it everything that they’ve got,” said a disappointed Fedora.
“There was so much adversity and the kids battled through it,” said Traylor. “It was a huge win.”
19 First downs 22
33-128 Rushes-yds 41-215
15-26-2-0 Passing 21-28-4-0
234 Passing yds 175
362 Total yds 390
0 Fumbles lost 0
23:35 Time of possession 24:25
7-67 Penalties-yds 8-88
SCORE BY QUARTERS
1 2 3 4 T
Navasota 7 21 0 7 35
Gilmer 14 14 7 7 42
XAVIER EASLEY of the Buckeyes is all over Thomas Sweed of the Rattlers during Gilmer’s 42-35 quarterfinal victory over Navasota last Saturday in Lufkin. The Buckeyes now move on to the semifinal round against the Cuero Gobblers. That game will kick off at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Huntsville.
Mirror Photos / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BEN GRIFFITH (19) of the Gilmer Buckeyes makes a “rattling” hit on Thomas Sweed (3) of the Navasota Rattlers, preventing him from making a first down on 4th-and-5 from the Gilmer 34. Other Buckeyes pictured are JT Beecham (21) and Chris Miller (16). Navasota was driving toward a touchdown, which would have tied the game at 35-35 had the drive not been stopped. Instead, the Buckeyes took over and drove to a clinching touchdown in last Saturday’s 42-35 quarterfinal win in Lufkin.
Gilmer Buckeyes vs Navasota Rattlers Videos
These come up in reverse chronological order. Scroll down to get to the beginning.