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Melissa comes back to eliminate Buckeyes, 35-23

By Hayden Henry
Dec. 1, 2017 at 11:17 p.m.


MESQUITE – Trailing by two scores at halftime, Melissa cranked up the pressure in a big way over the final 24 minutes.

It was a comeback that was a credit to both phases for the Cardinals.

Ja'Bray Young scored four second-half touchdowns and the Cardinal defense put the clamps on Gilmer to take a 35-23 win over the Buckeyes in a Class 4A, Division II, Region II semifinal Friday at Mesquite's Memorial Stadium.

Melissa, which had dropped the previous three meetings to Gilmer by a combined score of 178-6, moves to 12-1 on the season and into the regional final where they'll meet Pleasant Grove, a 33-14 winner over Celina on Friday night. Gilmer's season concludes at 10-3.

Gilmer held a 14-0 lead at halftime and a 270-120 advantage in total yards.

In the second half, Melissa posted a 35-9 score line on the Buckeyes, rolling up 438 yards to Gilmer's 114.

Young and sophomore quarterback Brendon Lewis, who went 5-for-6 passing in the final two quarters, accounted for 345 yards of that in the second half as Melissa used big plays offensively and heavy pressure defensively to keep the Buckeyes off balance.

Gilmer finished with 133 yards on 30 carries and added 251 yards through the air overall.

Gilmer quarterback Aaron Brown accounted for all three Buckeye scores, throwing two and adding one more on the ground. Brown, facing heavy pressure throughout, finished 20-for-37 passing with two interceptions for 251 yards with scoring strikes of 25 and 30 yards to Bran Webb. The senior quarterback added 71 yards on the grounding, including a three-yard score.

Brown finishes his two-year Gilmer career with 101 total touchdowns among several Buckeye school records.

For Melissa, Young finished with 164 yards on 19 carries with scoring runs of 51, 50, 12 and one. Lewis had 243 yards passing, including an 80-yard touchdown pass to Kennedy Lewis, and tacked on 68 rushing yards.

Brown and Webb connected on Gilmer's second possession for a 25-yard touchdown. Brown added his second score with 10:35 left in the second quarter on a three-yard run to put Gilmer up,14-0.

In between, the Buckeyes came up empty on a recovered onside kick and an interception from Chris Hollins.

After a turnover-on-downs to start the third quarter, a one-yard run from Young got Melissa on the board with 5:44 left in the third quarter.

Less than 20 seconds later, Young raced for a 50-yard score after the Cardinals recovered an onside kick for a 14-14 tie.

Gilmer responded quickly with a seven-play, 73-yard march with Brown and Webb connecting for the second time on a 30-yard score.

Melissa fired right back but a blocked point-after attempt and ensuing scoop-and-score from Larry Montgomery kept the Buckeyes ahead, 23-20.

That would be it for the Gilmer scoring.

Young added his fourth score and, after Melissa forced a Gilmer punt from its own 47 with 8:20 remaining, the sophomore tallied No. 5 on a 51-yard run up the middle to ice the game and end Gilmer's season.

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