Saturday October 26th marked the first day of the playoffs for the parks and recreation football program. The 11U Gilmer Bobcats finished the regular season nearly blemish free, with the only loss of the season coming in the last week against the Fannin Rebels.
Gilmer was set to the face the Trojans from North Hall, a team the Bobcats had already defeated 48-0 earlier in the year. This game would be the same song just a different verse, as Gilmer was able to shut North Hall out again, 43-0.
Gilmer won the toss and elected to kick off to start the game. The Trojans fumbled the first snap of the game, but recovered for a three yard loss. An encroachment penalty went against the Cats, but Jace McClure and Connor Thompson led the charge and forced a fourth and long situation. The Trojans tried a reverse, but Christian Cash had good containment and made the tackle leading to a turnover on downs.
The Bobcats started with the ball deep in enemy territory, setting up shop at the Trojan 23-yard line. Caleb Waddell got things started for the “Cats” with a one yard carry, followed by a Brice Bryant two yard run. Quarterback C.J. Streicher kept the ball on 3rd and 7 but only managed two yards.
Facing a fourth and five, Streicher hit Alex Snelgrove for a seven yard gain and set the Bobcats up with a new set of downs. A false start backed the offense up five yards, but a tough Thompson carry went for nine yards as he carried North Hall defenders on his back.
The very next play was a quarterback keeper by Streicher and he punched it in for the touchdown. The PAT was unsuccessful, but the Cats were still on top 6-0 with 1:19 to go in the first quarter.
The Trojans started with the ball at the North Hall 34-yard line. In what became the theme for the North Hall offense on the day, the Trojans struggled to move the ball on the stingy Bobcat defense. Blake Ledford was in on one of the key stops on this drive, a tackle for a loss on 2nd down. The drive ended with another turnover on downs, and the Cats took over at the Trojan 40-yard line.
This drive was a short-lived one for the “Cats.” After runs from Streicher and Waddell, Snelgrove caught another pass. This time, it was for a 25-yard touchdown. Another missed PAT gave Gilmer a 12-0 lead with 6:29 to go in the first half.
North Hall had its best starting field position of the day after the kickoff made its way out of bounds. It didn’t matter though, because the explosive defense again kept the Trojans from even picking up a first down. After four plays, the Bobcat offense again took the field on the Trojan side of the field.
On the second play of the drive, Waddell scampered for 34 yards down to the 1-yard line. Thompson got the call on first and goal and he made it count as he punched it in. The “Cats” failed to tack on the extra point, and the score stood at 18-0 with 4:13 remaining in the half.
The Trojans again found it impossible to move the ball against the “Cats.” Three straight plays went for negative yardage, and on a long fourth down the Bobcat defense became aggressive as sacking the quarterback and forcing a fumble. The Trojan players were able to pounce back on the loose ball, but the play still resulted in a turnover.
With 1:41 left in the first half, Gilmer had the ball on the Trojan 21-yard line. Just eight seconds later, Thompson was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass from Streicher. The PAT was missed, but the “Cats” still held a commanding lead, 24-0, and entered halftime with the same score.
During the entire first half, the ball never crossed midfield. Every play had occurred in Trojan territory. With North Hall set to kick, fans were ready to see some action on Gilmer’s side of the field. The kickoff went a total of one yard though, and the ball stayed on North Hall’s half of the field.
Starting at the 41-yard line, Gilmer came to the line of scrimmage and continued to do what it had done all day. Connor Thompson caught yet another touchdown pass, this time for 41 yards just seconds into the second half, the “Cats” led 30-0.
At this point in the game, the clock became a running clock, meaning it stopped for almost nothing. After the ensuing kickoff, Thompson decided it was time to score from the defensive side of the ball. On the first play of the drive, he intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown giving the Bobcats a monumental 36-0 lead.
Time was quickly running out with the new running clock. The Trojan offense was finally able to move the ball past midfield, but quickly turned it over on downs. Thompson had one more score in him as he ran a sweep to the left side and went untouched for a 53-yard score. The first successful PAT of the day made it 43-0 in favor of the Bobcats, and the clock would finally expire. With this win, Gilmer has successfully moved on past the first round of the playoffs.