The Gilmer Buckeyes scored just about every way possible Thursday night in a 76-12 victory over the Rains Wildcats in the opening game of the Trinity Mother Frances' Football Classic at Rose Stadium in Tyler.
The Buckeyes scored on a kickoff return, a punt return, an interception return, and a fumble return in addition to four touchdown passes and three rushing touchdowns to improve their record to 2-0 on the season.
"They deserve to be ranked number one in the state," said Rains head coach Brannon Kidd, who lost to the Buckeyes by a similar 77-21 score last season. "They were good last year and they're good this year. There's not a lot of difference to me."
One difference from last year's game was how the Buckeyes scored. Tristan Holt dazzled the crowd of about 4,000 with a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown as time expired in the first quarter and then opened the second half with a 90-yard touchdown return of the kickoff.
Gilmer safety Paul Chesnut returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown, while Eric Miller took a fumble back 31 yards for another score.
Holt credited his teammates for his two touchdowns. "It was great blocking and I was reading off the blocks and they got me in," said the senior, who totaled 221 all purpose yards in the game.
The special teams and defensive touchdowns were just icing on the cake for the Buckeyes, who scored touchdowns on five of their six first half possessions after scoring only one first half touchdown last week against Jasper.
"We came out with better intensity than against Jasper," said Gilmer quarterback Darian Godfrey who connected with Luke Turner on a 28-yard touchdown pass with 6:06 remaining in the first quarter to give the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead.
Godfrey then hooked up with Kedon Franklin on a 40-yard touchdown with 5:21 to play in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.
Gilmer linebacker Vance Green, filling in at running back for the injured Gus Osborne, continued to impress the Buckeyes' fans when he took his first handoff 21 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 3:29 to go in the first quarter.
Holt's punt return and Chesnut's interception return pushed Gilmer's lead to 35-0 before Godfrey and Franklin connected again from 3 yards out for a 42-0 lead with 5:35 remaining in the first half.
Green completed the first half scoring with a 33-yard run with 3:52 to play, pushing the lead to 48-0. Green now has 3 carries for 100 yards and 3 touchdowns in relief of Osborne.
"He's doing a good job. We've had to turn to him and he's responded well," said Godfrey about Green, who replied, "Gus is injured and I want to help the team," said the senior who led the Buckeyes' defense in tackles last season.
Godfrey played just two snaps in the second half, throwing a 59-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Webb that was sandwiched between Holt's kickoff return and Miller's fumble recovery with 8:35 to play in the third quarter to give the Buckeyes a 69-0 lead.
Godfrey finished with 291 yards on 14 of 17 passing, while only running the ball 2 times for 6 yards. "I was real pleased," said Godfrey after the game. "The line blocked great. The running backs and receivers caught the ball well and they made plays. I didn't really have to run the ball much, and that's what I like. I like to see the other guys with the ball."
The Wildcats finally got on the scoreboard with 3:51 left in the third quarter when quarterback Trevor Vandeventer ran it in from 5 yards out to make the score 69-6.
Gilmer responded two series later when Tevin Godfrey scored from 12 yards out with 9:02 remaining in the game.
Rains finished the scoring when Vandeventer connected with Nick Hancock on a 24-yard touchdown pass with 3:22 left in the game, before the Buckeyes let the clock run out on their final possession.
The final statistics were impressive, with Gilmer amassing 454 total yards and 7 offensive touchdowns on only 36 plays.
"We didn't get many snaps on offense at all. We didn't get to play that much," said a concerned Buckeyes head coach Jeff Traylor. "We seemed to play better, but it's just hard to know."
While Traylor was concerned about the lack of snaps for his offense; his defense stayed busy, holding the Wildcats to 248 total yards on 72 offensive plays.
"Their defense seems to be a little more solid this year," said Kidd, whose team held the football for almost 33 minutes of the 48 minute game.
Despite the lopsided score, Traylor urged caution to Buckeyes' fans. "We'll find out in the next three weeks," said Traylor, referring to the Buckeyes' next three games against Liberty-Eylau, Kilgore and Daingerfield. "I don't want to get too hyper; I mean we've got three great opponents in a row. We'll know a lot more in three weeks."