Gilmer JV escapes with narrow win

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Blaize Nicholson, right, zand Ella Nichols, center, and the rest of the JV cheerleaders urge on the team.
Dylan Hopkins throws a 36-yard TD strike to Graycon Taylor against Gilmer Thursday at Hawk Stadium
Blaize Nicholson, right, and Ella Nichols, center, and the rest of the JV cheerleaders urge on the team.

By Bill Owney

TheGroveNow Sports

In a game neither side was willing to lose, Gilmer edged Pleasant Grove, 33-30, in junior varsity action Thursday at Hawk Stadium.

Five times, the Buckeyes’ powerful offense drove for touchdowns, and five times PG found a way to answer. The game ended with the Hawks in Gilmer territory, desperately trying to hit one more big play.

“We fought to the end,” said coach Wacey Forga. “They never quit playing.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Gilmer scored on the first play of the second. Nick Martin gathered in the ensuing kickoff, slashed through a hole and sprinted down the right sideline to make it a 7-6 contest.

It was 14-6 when Antonio Watkins took a jet sweep around the right side to make it 14-12. Gilmer stopped the two-point try, and that would prove decisive, despite a pair of blocked PAT kicks by the Hawks’ Shane Nelson

The Buckeyes drove the length of the field and were in the position to open their lead when Javen Daniels wrestled the ball away from the receiver in the end zone to kill the drive with 36 seconds left in the half.

The Buckeyes scored again on the first possession of the second half, but Nelson’s blocked kick held their lead to 20-12.

Pleasant Grove answered with a drive capped by a 36-yard TD pass from Dylan Hopkins to Graycon Taylor. The game marked the first action of the season for Hopkins, injured in a preseason scrimmage with Carthage.

“Coming back from an injury like that, to be out that long, our quarterback did a fine job,” coach Forca said. “He threw some nice passes.”

Thanks in part to a 27-yard scoring run on a counter play by Watkins, the Hawks closed it to 33-30 in the final minute. The defense held and gave the ball back to the offense with 11 seconds to play, but time ran out on the young Hawks.

Gilmer             0          14        13        6 – 33

PG                   0          12        6         12 – 30

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A veteran journalist and educator, Bill Owney is a 1980 graduate of the University of Florida. Writing awards include APME honors for investigative reporting, the Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Award for public service reporting and numerous awards for editorial, column and news writing. He served as publisher of the Atlanta Citizens Journal and Pittsburg Gazette when each paper won sweepstakes awards from the Texas Press and North and East Texas Press Associations. He spent 15 years as a public school teacher and is an adjunct professor of English at Texarkana College.