After receiving their first loss of the year, the Gilmer Bobcats looked to get back to its winning ways Friday night in a Homecoming faceoff with the Ramblers of Lafayette. The Bobcats bounced back from the loss to Dalton, with a 35-7 rout of the Ramblers. The Gilmer defense was stingy all night, not giving up a touchdown, until the outcome was well past decided.
Gilmer won the toss and elected to defer until the second half. The Ramblers received the opening kickoff from Manny Lopez and returned it to the Lafayette 33 yard line. The Ramblers had one of its better drives to open the game, with a little help from a defensive pass interference.
Lafayette was able to move into Bobcat territory until a false start backed the offense up. On third and 16, the Ramblers were looked to get into field goal range. The long pass attempt was complete, but to Austin Cole of the Bobcats and he returned the interception to the Rambler 43 yard line.
The Cats decided to make quick work of things. Victor Ramirez got the first carry of the game, taking it six yards to the 37 yard line. The very next play featured a Johnie Flakes sweep that led to a 37 yard score for the “Cats.”
The PAT was successfully converted by Lopez and the Gilmer held an early lead. At the 9:17 mark, Gilmer was ahead 7-0.
The ensuing kickoff included an incidental facemask on the Gilmer which brought the kickoff to the Rambler 27 yard line. Again the offense moved the ball on the Gilmer defense, driving down the field with ease.
The Ramblers decided to attempt a homerun play, throwing deep down the left side of the field. Running in stride with the Rambler receiver, Gilmer’s Corey Waters, made a spectacular interception. His momentum carried him into the end zone for what appeared to be a touchback, but the ball was marked at the 2 yard line.
Gilmer again moved the ball down the field, chewing up game clock. Chunks of yardage were picked up with each play as: Flakes, Chad Watkins, Tyler Bertolini, and Russell Cochran all had substantial gains on the ground.
The play of the drive came on a fourth and inches at the Rambler 24 yard line. With a kicker like Lopez, it’s easy to just trot him out there and take the three points, but head coach Wesley Tankersley was confident his boys could get the first down.
Needing what seemed to be two or three inches at the most, Flakes decided to pick up ten yards with his shifty moves. Bertolini ran for ten more to get a first and goal at the four yard line. He got the call again and punched it in with 1:26 left in the first quarter. Another successful Pat put that gave Gilmer a 14-0 in front of a raucous Homecoming crowd.
Things started getting tougher for the Ramblers from that point on. Yardage up the middle was tough to come by. Flakes, Bertolini, and Austin Davis were making sure the Rambler runners got nowhere, and Jake Ingram was applying the pressure on the quarterback. Lafayette was forced to punt, and Davis was able to partially block it giving the Gilmer great field position.
This Gilmer drive was more of the same, with each run resulting in chunks of yardage. Bertolini was handling the tough sledding up the middle while Cochran, Watkins, and Thaddeus Bowers handles the outside runs. After being set back by a couple of penalties, Gilmer was finally able to punch it in with a 17 yard pass from Bowers to Cole. The PAT was converted, and with 5:25 left in the half, Gilmer was on top 21-0.
The Ramblers continued to have a tough time moving the ball. The Lafayette quarterback threw his third interception of the day when Chad Watkins was able to haul in the pass. The play following the interception was a simple run up the middle that appeared to have been stopped for a small gain.
All 11 Bobcats got behind their runner and pushed him all the way down to the Rambler 18 yard line. The drive stalled and with just 22 seconds left on the clock, Lopez came on the field to attempt the 22 yard field goal.
The holder took the snap and ran with it to the left side and came up just short of the end zone, turning the ball over on downs at the 1 yard line. The “Cats” tried to get a safety to end the half, but the defense was unsuccessful and the half came to an end.
After a remarkable homecoming ceremony at halftime, the Cats came out firing. After a 15 yard run by Flakes, Bertolini raced 49 yards to score the fourth Bobcat touchdown of the game.
Lopez stayed perfect on the night and made his fourth PAT to put the Cats ahead 28-0 with 10:51 left in the third quarter.
The Ramblers’ offense was unable to do anything with the following drive, and Cole had a lot to do with t. He sniffed out two plays that totaled a loss of ten yards for the Ramblers, and the Lafayette offense was forced to punt again.
Gilmer wasn’t through yet, as the offense again moved the ball quite quickly. Russell Cochran had an 18 yard scamper which he finished by lowering his shoulder to gain a few extra yards.
The drive ended on a 35 yard touchdown run by Watkins, and Lopez converted again. With 7:50 left in the third quarter, Gilmer led 35-0.
Lafayette was finally able to score, but it took the Bobcats playing some of their youth in the game. With the Rambler touchdown, Lafayette still trailed 35-7 and would not find the end zone again.
Lopez tacked on a 27 yard field goal before the younger guys took over the game for the “Cats.” Bobcat players who made great plays in the final drives of the game were Noah Wilson, Chase Kephart, Matthew Waddell, Gabe Tutton, and Tyler Buntin.
Gilmer (4-1) has a bye week coming up, then will travel to Cass (2-3) on October 11.