MESQUITE — Prior to Argyle’s game against Gilmer on Friday, almost everything had gone smoothly following a season-opening loss to Abilene Wylie.
After the first four plays of Friday’s Class 3A Division II regional semifinal, Argyle had capitalized on a botched handoff and was ahead by seven points — before a minute had ticked off the clock.
And from there — and for the first time in months — nothing seemed to go in Argyle’s favor at Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes defeated Argyle 42-21, avenging two straight playoff defeats at the hands of the Eagles.
“I don’t know if that helped us or hurt us in the end when the game started shifting and changing,” Argyle head coach Todd Rodgers said of the start of the game. “Who’s to say? It was fortunate on our part to start the game like that.”
The opening of the game was one of the few things that went in Argyle’s favor. On the first play from scrimmage, Gilmer fumbled a handoff exchange and Argyle lineman Micah Capra recovered at the Gilmer 16, where Argyle capitalized and went ahead 7-0.
The night was full of uncharacteristic performances all around. Junior quarterback Brandon Boyzuick struggled against Gilmer’s defense, completing eight of 23 passes for 87 yards and one interception. To make matters worse, Boyzuick appeared to suffer an injury on Argyle’s last drive of the game, and he hobbled toward the sideline.
His primary target and one of the state’s most prolific players, junior wide receiver Ian Sadler, was stymied by a different mix of Gilmer’s defense.
“Last year when we played them they were fast, but it wasn’t like what they were this year,” Sadler said. “They were prepared.”
Sadler was held to just three catches and 35 yards. He added five carries on 38 yards for two rushing touchdowns, the last one coming with 48 seconds left in a contest that had been decided long before the final whistle.
The only time Argyle was outplayed this season was in its 31-14 loss to Wylie to start the season. Since then, the Eagles had rattled off 11 straight wins.
“Since Game 1, that hasn’t happened,” Sadler said. “We’d been getting to the point where we were doing all we could and we were exceeding what we were doing. Tonight, we came out and we were outplayed by a good Gilmer team. There’s not much you can say now, except for good luck to Gilmer.”
Gilmer (12-1) kept its offense rolling the entire night, giving Argyle fits with its ground attack.
Coming into the game, Argyle (11-2) had allowed an average of 140.8 rushing yards per game and had only allowed more than 200 rushing yards twice.
The Buckeyes accumulated 332 rushing yards, led by quarterback Tanner Barr’s 96 rushing yards and running back Kris Boyd’s 91 rushing yards.
Argyle was without starting junior safety Connor Wilson, who led the team with eight interceptions and was second in tackles.
Capra said that while the Eagles were missing one of their leaders, the lopsided defeat couldn’t be pinned on Wilson’s absence.
“We weren’t all there, I guess you could say, but there’s still no excuses,” Capra said.
On most nights, Argyle would be the last team on the field, celebrating a rather easy victory. But on Friday night, the Buckeyes lingered around Memorial Stadium, relishing a victory over its postseason rival.
“I don’t want this feeling again,” Sadler said. “I feel empty and not accomplished.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.