Calhoun, GA — We got a taste of it against Fannin in the season opener. The Gilmer Bobcats put together a grinding, methodical drive on their first possession that resulted in points. Then a lot went wrong and the Bobcats were forced to play catch up. Not what they wanted to do. Last week in the home opener, Towns was outmatched in talent and depth the Cats were able to score early and often. Friday night at Gordon Central we really got to see how they will operate. We got to see them do what they wanted to do. They controlled the ball all night and made big defensive plays in critical moments to escape Calhoun with a 6-3 victory.
“We won a football game that we probably didn’t play really well, but we found a way to win,” said Coach Kevin Saunders after the game. Don’t let the modesty or the low score fool you. That’s exactly how this team will attempt to keep winning. Saunders then added, “They found a way to get the job done and we won, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
There is lots to be proud of. It was Homecoming Night at Gordon Central. It’s something we’ve grown used to over the years. The assumption of victory from the opponents. The PA announcer in the stadium referred to the Cats by number all night, like an anonymous pick-up group. The PA Announcer claimed to have never gotten a roster. So off they went, #6, #1, #24, and #8 as they’d be known, all had a busy night.
After muffing the opening kickoff out of bounds, the Cats opened things up inside the 10-yard line. The drive fizzled and the Cats were forced to punt. The Warriors came out playing fast in the spread, with running back Jordan Boone breaking a few runs of over ten yards. Yet, the Cats defense able to stall the drive and force an Edgar Ramirez field goal attempt. In what turned out to be one of the bigger plays of the game, the kick was no good. The Bobcats offense took over and went to work.
Throughout the rest of the first half Gilmer was able to slowly flip field position. They cashed in with a drive that started before the end of the first quarter and didn’t end until there were only four minutes left in the half. A couple fourth and short gambles got them inside the 5 yard line. A combination of Kobe Stonecipher, Ashton White, Gray McClure, and Spenser Smith chipped away at the Gordon Central defense. Gilmer Quarterback Spenser Smith punched it in to put the Bobcats ahead. The extra point attempt was no good.
The Warriors got the ball back looking for points before the break. After a couple first downs they were forced into a fourth down at midfield. They attempted a fake punt, Punter Peyton Parker rolled right and, under pressure, threw a ball up into double coverage that was broken up. However, a questionable late hit call kept the drive alive. In what seemed like an eternity thanks to clock issues, four timeouts, and more penalties, the Warriors positioned themselves inside the red zone for a field try at the buzzer. Ramirez was able to put it through this time, making it 6-3 Gilmer.
After forcing a quick Gordon Central punt to open the third, the Bobcats went on the drive of the game. Much like the scoring drive in the first half, the Cats pounded the ball three yards at a time. Slowly working the ball into the red zone. The drive ended with no points after a failed 4th down try, but it took almost ten minutes off the clock and pinned Gordon Central deep in their own territory. Gilmer forced a quick three and out but couldn’t get anything going. That set the stage for perhaps the biggest play of the night. Punter Seth Darling pinned the Warriors inside their own 10 yard line.
Boone and Gray got back to work for the Warriors, quickly moving them down field. Once again, the Gilmer defense was able to halt them on 4th down to get the ball back and seal the game. Unfortunately, a Gilmer fumble gave the ball back at midfield with 3:00 left on the clock.
Yet again, the Gilmer defense stood tall. They turned Gordon Central over on downs in just four plays. From then it was only a matter of running the final seconds off the clock. Spenser Smith took a knee and the game was over. It was their first road win since October of 2015.
Gilmer extended their record to 2-1. It was an old-school football slugfest, a defensive struggle that went down to the wire. The score shouldn’t fool you, this was a game of long drives, key special teams plays, and clock control. “We control the football, we pound on people, and make it a four quarter game, and it’s ugly,” added Saunders.
An ugly win is always better than a pretty loss. The Gilmer Bobcats (2-1) will travel to Lumpkin County (0-3) next week. Lumpkin lost 31-0 to Jackson County in their last game.