Bu Johnny McKinney

Bu Johnny McKinney

Special to the Herald Democrat

GUNTER — Garrett Hunter and Kevin Teems each scored in the third quarter as Gunter hung on for a 19-11 victory over Leonard in District 7-2A (II) action on Friday night, claiming the first of two showdowns as they try to defend their district crown.

After handing Leonard (6-2, 2-1) its first district loss, Gunter (7-1, 3-0) will face S&S this week in a second straight battle of district unbeatens.

Leonard pinned Gunter at its two-yard line on the opening possession and the first play was a safety when Justin Baker made a tackle in the end zone.

On the next Leonard possession Solomon Titus, who had 107 yards on 23 carries, took a screen pass deep into Gunter territory. The drive stalled there and Ty McKinney booted a 34-yard field goal to give Leonard a 5-0 advantage at the 3:21 mark of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter Gunter completed a 61-drive with Spencer Lashley catching a five-yard touchdown pass from Austen Gressett. The point after failed but Gunter led 6-5.

Leonard countered when Justin Bennett sprinted in from 46 yards out for an 11-6 advantage. The offense was unable to add to the lead when, after starting at its 14, put together a drive keyed by a 60-yard run by Dylan Monck before McKinney missed a 31-yard field goal.

A little more than two minutes into the third quarter, Hunter capped a 60-yard drive with a 21-yard sprint to the end zone. The two-point conversion pass failed but Gunter took the lead for good, 12-11, at this point.

On the next series facing a fourth-and-one, Leonard failed to convert at the Gunter 45.

Two possessions later Teems plunged in from one yard out, forcing Leonard to get a touchdown and a two-point conversion to force overtime.

In the middle of the fourth quarter Titus ran 64 yards to the Gunter 25. Leonard then moved the ball to the 14. At this point Leonard faked a field goal with Bennett passing into the end zone but the throw was incomplete on Leonard’s best chance to tie the score.

Leonard can clinch a playoff spot when it travels to Tom Bean on Friday night.