MESQUITE — In one night, Argyle’s 11-game winning streak and two-year playoff winning streak over Gilmer disappeared.
The Buckeyes defeated the Eagles 42-21 on Friday in a Class 3A Division II regional semifinal at Memorial Stadium.
Argyle (11-2), which hadn’t lost since its season opener against Abilene Wylie, found itself dominated by the Buckeyes (12-1), who were carrying their own baggage into the game after losing two straight playoff meetings against the Eagles.
Gilmer racked up 430 total yards, shut down the Eagles’ punishing running game and limited wide receiver Ian Sadler to just three receptions for 35 yards.
“We weren’t able to defend them properly and we had a hard time executing and maintaining possession,” Eagles coach Todd Rodgers said.
It was a close game in the first half. The Eagles led 7-0 after Gilmer had the football and on its opening drive botched a handoff, leading to a fumble recovered by Argyle’s Micah Capra. The fumble gave the Eagles a short field, and running back Nick Ralston capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run with 11:07 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles didn’t move the football effectively again until late in the third quarter. During that span, the Buckeyes built a 27-7 lead on the play of both of its lines. On offense, a Buckeyes unit Rodgers called the most technically sound group the Eagles have faced all season pushed around the Eagles’ athletic but undersized defensive line. The entire Eagle defense was smarting from the loss of safety Connor Wilson.
Defensively, the quicker Buckeyes didn’t allow Argyle’s offensive line to establish its blocking scheme, leading to plenty of penetration and limiting Ralston to 72 yards rushing.
“When you play someone with a big offensive line and one that executes the way they do, it’s difficult to hold up against that,” Rodgers said.
Gilmer executed much better on offense after its early turnover. Quarterback Tanner Barr went 11-of-21 for 98 yards and two touchdowns. His one interception came at the end of the first half at the hands of Sadler, who played at safety in Wilson’s absence.
The Buckeyes worked the ground game effectively, as Barr and Kris Boyd each rushed for more than 90 yards. Barr scored twice, including a 54-yard run to open the third quarter that gave the Buckeyes a 21-7 lead.
Down 21-7, Rodgers gambled on 4th-and-1 on Argyle’s 45 shortly after that score. The play didn’t move the chains, as running back Chance Bode was stood up at the line of scrimmage.
The Buckeyes turned that gamble into a score, as Barr connected with Boyd for a 22-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-7 Buckeyes with 6:45 left in the third.
“That stung a little bit,” Rodgers said. “I felt we needed to do that to turn the tide of the confidence. It ended up getting us.”
Sadler scored his first of two touchdowns on the ensuing drive, a 5-yard run with 3:06 left in the third to cut the lead to 27-14. But hope of a comeback faded fast, as Gilmer’s defense kept Argyle from mounting another serious drive.
Barr threw a touchdown pass to Jaidon Parrish and Jamel Jackson rushed for a 6-yard score to put the game out of reach.
Sadler was more effective on the ground, rushing for 38 yards and two scores, than he was through the air. Rodgers saw a Gilmer team that made a concerted effort to take away Argyle’s top offensive weapon.
“They played a safety over the top and shifted their rovers out, and we hadn’t seen them do that,” Rodgers. “Good football teams make adjustments. We weren’t able to do that.”
Argyle quarterback Brandon Boyzuick went 8-of-23 for 87 yards and an interception as the Eagles finished the game with just 249 total yards.
Gilmer 42, Argyle 21
Argyle 7 0 7 7 — 21
Gilmer 7 7 13 15 — 42
A — Nick Ralston 6 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
G — Jaidon Parrish 14 run (Pablin Olivares kick)
G — Tanner Barr 7 run (Olivares kick)
G — Barr 54 run (Olivares kick)
G — Kris Boyd 22 pass from Barr (kick failed)
A — Ian Sadler 5 run (Hedlund kick)
G — Parrish 16 pass from Tanner Barr (Josh Walker pass from Barr)
G — Jamel Jackson 6 run (Olivares kick)
A — Sadler 3 run (Hedlund kick)
First Downs 18 25
Rushing 38-149 51-332
Passing yards 100 98
Passing 9-24-1 11-21-1
Punts-avg. 3-33.67 3-32.67
Penalties 4-25 5-39
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Rushing — A: Nick Ralston 18-72, Ian Sadler 5-38, Brandon Boyzuick 4-22, Chance Bode 6-21, Jon Pucciarello 3-14, Cole Hedlund 1-(-1), Stat Team 1-(-17), G: Tanner Barr 14-96, Kris Boyd 19-91, Chase Tate 3-48, Jamel Jackson 4-36, Jaidon Parrish 2-29, Josh Walker 6-23, Slade Morris 1-9, DeVondrick Dixon 2-0.
Passing — A: Brandon Boyzuick 8-23-1-87, Ian Sadler 1-1-0-13, G: Tanner Barr 11-21-1-98.
Receiving — A: Ian Sadler 3-35, Jon Pucciarello 2-31, Dalton Ledford 2-21, Chance Bode 2-13, G: Jaidon Parrish 3-45, Kris Boyd 1-22, Chase Tate 2-13, Josh Walker 1-12, Patrick Finch 4-6.