MESQUITE — Each time Godley grabbed a bit of momentum Thursday night, Gilmer snatched it right back.
Two big plays — an interception late in the first half and a kickoff return late in the second half — turned up big as the Buckeyes grabbed a 42-20 win over Godley in a Class 4A, Division II, Region II area playoff at Mesquite ISD’s Hanby Stadium.
With the win, Gilmer (11-1) advances to the third round of the postseason for the 14th-straight season and will meet Sunnyvale, which moved on to the regional semifinals via a forfeit from Mexia due to COVID-19. Godley, which pulled to within eight points twice on Thursday night, concludes its season at 7-5.
In between the big plays from the Buckeyes, an interception in the end zone from Marshae Spraglin and an 88-yard kickoff return touchdown from Jaydon Griffin, senior Buckeye receiver Dylan Fluellen etched his name atop the Gilmer record books.
Fluellen finished with two touchdowns, giving him the single-season record of 17 to eclipse Blake Lynch’s mark of 16 in 2014 and the career mark of 26, which passes Curtis Brown from the 2004-06 season. His 109 yards on Thursday also gives him the career yardage record as well, according to Gilmer football historian Joe Dodd.
Brandon Tennison finished 17-of-28 passing for 228 yards and the two touchdown passes to Fluellen. Davion Smith added a 21-yard score, Jaron Choyce had two touchdowns and Ashton Haynes led with 68 rushing yards for the Buckeyes, who led 21-13 at halftime.
Godley quarterback Caden Burke finished with 320 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns in a stellar night but was picked off once by Spraglin as the Wildcats were driving late in the first half down by eight points.
Burke added his third touchdown of the night on the ground early in the fourth quarter to cap a 17-play, 78-yard march that chewed up 5:07 off the lock to pull the Wildcats back to within eight, 28-20.
But just like that, Griffin raced 88 yards to the house on the ensuing kickoff to grab every ounce of momentum back and send the Buckeyes forward.
Godley finished with 435 total yards, 115 on the ground, to Gilmer’s balanced night of 214 rushing and 228 passing. The Buckeyes were hit with 12 penalties for 83 yards.
Both teams brought an up-tempo attack on the night and Godley showed it from the start, moving 89 yards in a hurry before striking first on a 19-yard pass from Burke to Drew Coleman, the first of consecutive scores on fourth down for the Wildcats.
Gilmer answered just as quickly with Tennison and Fluellen connecting for the first time on a 12-yard score for a 7-7 game after the first quarter.
After a second-straight punt from Godley, Smith got a big block from junior lineman Taylor Nearly on a 21-yard run, two play after Tennison and Fluellen hooked up for a fourth-down conversion. That put Gilmer up, 14-7.
A quick three-and-out from Godley led to a quick Buckeye score with Tennison dropping one in to Fluellen on a 35-yard catch-and-run for a 21-7 lead.
Godley found its footing and pulled to within eight on a 4th and Goal from the one Burke touchdown pass. The Wildcat defense then forced a Gilmer punt.
Burke converted two third downs and a fourth before Spraglin picked off the senior in the end zone for a 21-13 Buckeye lead at halftime.
The Buckeyes upped that to 28-13 to start the third quarter on Choyce’s three-yard run. After the two teams exchanged three-and-outs, the Wildcats pulled to within eight on Burke’s punch-in.
But Gilmer grabbed the momentum back right away on Griffin’s return and kept it for good.