LEONARD — For the second straight year, the Gunter Tigers finished off a perfect regular season. And they put an exclamation point on beginning the defense of their state title with a 70-0 victory against Leonard in the District 6-3A (II) finale on Friday.
The win was the 26th straight for Gunter (10-0, 6-0), which kept Leonard (6-4, 5-1) from earning a share of the district championship. It was also the sixth shutout of the season, five of them coming in district action, which is the most for the program since six during the 2008 season.
In the regular season Gunter outscored its opponents 508-43 and in this one held a 42-0 advantage at half-time. The 70 points was the most by the team since an 81-0 victory against Cumby in 1987.
Gunter opens the playoffs against Henrietta at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Denton High School while Leonard faces Nocona in a bi-district match-up at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Denton High.
Braiden Clopton had a pair of touchdown runs and caught two touchdown passes from Ethan Everson, Dylan Jantz ran for three scores and added another on a punt return and Daylan Bower scored twice.
Leonard finished with 135 yards and had four turnovers. Ronnie Hart had 14 carries for 52 yards to lead the team.
Bower started the scoring four minutes into the game on a three-yard run when Gunter had a 52-yard drive.
Bower ended a 72-yard possession right before the end of the first-quarter with a one-yard plunge.
With 13 seconds left in the half, Everson connected with Clopton on a 51-yard TD pass for the fourth Gunter touchdown in an eight-minute span.
Clopton scored from the four-yard line to start the stretch at the 7:58 mark of the second quarter. He finished with seven carries for 80 yards and the two TD receptions for 69 yards.
Jantz, who ran for 102 yards on nine carries, finished a 77-yard march with a 44-yard scoring run and Gunter recovered the ensuing kickoff to set up Clopton’s 11-yard TD run.
In the third quarter, Gunter had a touchdown called back but then dialed up an 11-yard TD pass from Everson to Clopton with 7:10 left in the frame.
Less than two minutes later Jantz returned a punt for a 64-yard touchdown. It was 63-0 at the end of the third following Jantz’s two-yard touchdown run.
David Denton closed out the scoring with a 20-yard pass from Everson less than a minute into the fourth quarter.