DALLAS — Argyle senior Ian Sadler ensured that his final high school contest wasn’t a second-straight playoff loss to Gilmer.
In Friday’s Class 3A Division II regional semifinal, Sadler scored five total touchdowns and lifted Argyle to a 45-38 win against Gilmer at Kincaide Stadium.
Argyle (13-0) remains undefeated and avenged its only loss in its last 25 games. The Eagles knocked Gilmer out of the postseason and advance to face Gladewater or Gainesville in the Region II final — mostly because of Sadler’s performance.
Sadler, who has orally committed to Texas Tech, finished the night with 28 carries for 182 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 38 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air.
“I don’t have that kind of vocabulary to describe how big he was for us tonight,” Argyle head coach Todd Rodgers said. “Probably many multi-syllable words to describe how extravagant and amazing he was.”
This is the fourth straight year Argyle and Gilmer have met in the playoffs. Argyle won the first two contests before losing to Gilmer last season in the 3A Division II regional semifinals.
Sadler provided a key touchdown early in the fourth quarter to keep the Buckeyes from ending Argyle’s season again.
With the Eagles leading 31-28, Sadler took a handoff from quarterback Brandon Boyzuick, sprinted to his left, and headed to the left corner of the end zone. As a Gilmer defender was dragging Sadler out of bounds, the senior extended the ball and his right arm across the goal line to put the Eagles ahead by 10.
He wasn’t going to be denied on Friday night.
“Honestly, this is the biggest win I’ve had in my four years of high school football,” Sadler said. “I couldn’t tell you how much this game meant to me.”
He overcame an early fumble and added a 16-yard touchdown run with 2:19 left that ushered Gilmer’s fans down the bleachers and toward Interstate 20.
“At that point, I couldn’t be more thankful at how this game ended up,” Sadler said. “I was so happy and so relieved. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Early on, it looked as if mistakes were going to plague Argyle.
Gilmer quarterback Tanner Barr hit Jaidon Parrish for a 15-yard touchdown reception to give the Buckeyes an early 7-0 lead with 7:32 left in the first quarter.
On Argyle’s ensuing drive, Sadler took a carry across the middle of the field. As Sadler was hit, the ball lingered in the air and Gilmer’s Nick Smith snatched the fumble before it hit the ground.
Gilmer seemed to be in position to take advantage of the error, but Argyle sophomore Drew Estrada intercepted Barr and set up Argyle for its first touchdown, a 29-yard scoring pass from Boyzuick to Sadler.
Argyle scored two more touchdowns, but Gilmer responded late in the second quarter.
On fourth-and-goal, Josh Walker hauled in a 1-yard pass from Barr with 1:41 left in the half. Argyle’s Cole Hedlund knocked down a 41-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Eagles a 24-21 lead going into the halftime break.
Rodgers said a big run by early in the second half by junior running back Nick Ralston helped push the Eagles in the right direction. Ralston finished the night with 128 yards on 14 carries.
Ralston said that when it comes down to it, he and Sadler are asked to carry Argyle’s offensive burden. The task was primarily Sadler’s on Friday night, and he did not fail his team.
“He just has so much heart,” Ralston said. “God, he carried the team tonight. It was amazing.”
Barr led Gilmer’s offense. The Buckeyes’ quarterback completed 22 of 40 passes for 277 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He also ran the ball 10 times for 84 yards and a 65-yard touchdown.
Argyle’s defense held Gilmer to a field goal late in the fourth quarter before Sadler’s final touchdown run that helped seal the win.
The Eagles are now two wins away from appearing in their third state championship game and three wins away from their first football state title.
“This was a big game, but in the long run, it’s a steppingstone in the way,” Sadler said. “I mean, don’t get me wrong — Gilmer’s a great team — but it’s something we just needed to get through to get to the state championship and win it.”
Argyle 45, Gilmer 38
GI — Jaidon Parrish 15 pass from Tanner Barr (Pablin Olivares kick)
AY — Ian Sadler 29 pass from Brandon Boyzuick (Cole Hedlund kick)
AY — Jon Pucciarello 10 pass from Brandon Boyzuick (Cole Hedlund kick)
AY — Ian Sadler 29 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
GI — Tanner Barr 65 run (Pablin Olivares kick)
GI — Josh Walker 1 pass from Tanner Barr (Pablin Olivares kick)
AY — Cole Hedlund 41 FG
GI — Darrian Lewis 11 pass from Tanner Barr (Pablin Olivares kick)
AY — Ian Sadler 8 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
AY — Ian Sadler 5 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
GI — Pablin Olivares 35 FG
AY — Ian Sadler 16 run (Cole Hedlund kick)
GI — Kris Boyd 22 pass from Tanner Barr (Pablin Olivares kick)
Rushing — AY: Ian Sadler 28-182, Nick Ralston 14-128, Jon Pucciarello 1-4, Connor Wilson 1-0, GI: Tanner Barr 10-84, Kris Boyd 7-24, Jamel Jackson 2-17, Nick Smith 1-15, Darrian Lewis 3-13, Jaidon Parrish 2-11, Chase Tate 1-8, Josh Walker 1-5, DeVondrick Dixon 2--1.
Passing — AY: Brandon Boyzuick 10-18-0-173, Ian Sadler 0-1-0-0, GI: Tanner Barr 22-40-1-277.
Receiving — AY: Ian Sadler 2-38, Connor Wilson 2-33, Nick Ralston 1-32, Jon Pucciarello 3-30, Hunter Treadwell 1-22, J.C. Chalk 1-18, GI: Kris Boyd 5-116, Chase Tate 7-68, Desmond Pollard 3-39, Jaidon Parrish 1-15, Nick Smith 2-15, Darrian Lewis 1-11, Josh Walker 2-8, DeVondrick Dixon 1-5.