LONGVIEW — It would have required requisitions of much more mojo than the proverbial rabbit’s foot for good luck for the Atlanta Rabbits to douse the Gilmer Buckeyes’ volcanic volley of big bangs Friday night at Lobo Stadium.
Gilmer detonated open a close confrontation with three touchdowns within a 3:58 span of the third quarter, toting up 36 unanswered points in all to addle Atlanta for the second time this season, 57-13, in a Class 3A Division II area dustup.
Coach Jeff Traylor’s Buckeyes (11-1) thus won another shot at sparring with Argyle, the team that has propelled them out of playoff paradise for the past two seasons. Kickoff will be 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
Atlanta, which had lost 31-17 to Gilmer in the season inaugural, finished its course at 5-7.
Gilmer hopped ahead of the Rabbits 21-7 at twirling time, only to behold Atlanta take the second-half kickoff and charge downfield for a TD that made it 21-13. But on the ensuing kickoff, if there’s such a thing as a play that turns a game this one-sided, it transpired when Gilmer’s Devondrick Dixon screamed 81 yards to a TD.
Atlanta got a penalty on the conversion, so Josh Walker ran for two points to make it 29-13 with 9:36 left in the third. The Rabbits never recovered, as the Buckeyes detonated two more touchdown explosions on them in short order.
A prime culprit in Atlanta’s angst was Buckeye runner Kris Boyd, who legged for three touchdowns and 168 yards on only 15 deliveries. In fact, Boyd procured a 34-yard TD for Gilmer’s opening score, which came when the Buckeyes took the opening kickoff and surged 58 yards in only five plays.
Pablin Olivares airlifted the first of seven successful PATs with 9:49 left in the first.
Atlanta counterpunched on its first possession, too, plodding 65 yards in 11 plays in a penalty-marked offensive that culminated in quarterback Chase Musgrove’s 6-yard scoring scramble. Ruben Duran nailed the PAT with 2:56 left in the first.
But, despite intercepting a pass before halftime, the Rabbits proved largely helpless to fend off the Buckeyes’ offense, which produced two more first-half TDs on Walker’s 3-yard hike with 8:17 left in the second and Boyd’s 24-yard rip to the right with 3:33 left to the break.
Atlanta then briefly made a battle of it, beginning the second half by charging 85 yards in just five plays to tally on Everett Dickerson’s 5-yard jaunt. Duran’s PAT kick hit the upright with 9:50 left in the third, leaving it 21-13.
But then came Dixon’s big blow. And after an Atlanta punt, the Buckeyes wheeled 62 yards in eight rushing plays to score on Walker’s 1-yard bop up the middle with 6:32 left in the third.
Then, on the third play after the ensuing kickoff, Walker returned a Musgrove fumble 24 yards for a TD with 5:38 left in the quarter. With the PAT, Gilmer had transformed a 21-13 lead to 43-13 in less than four minutes.
The rest of the night Gilmer’s defense somewhat choked off Atlanta’s land-lubbing offense, while the Buckeyes topped off their scoring parade with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. They included Boyd’s 14-yard rumble with 8:32 left and backup quarterback McLane Carter’s 31-yard heave to Desmond Pollard with 2:23 remaining. Carter, who relieved starter Tanner Barr late in the fourth quarter, was experiencing his first action at quarterback this season.