GUNTER — For three-and-a-half seasons no one had cracked the code to handing the Gunter Tigers loss during the regular season. Whether as a non-district foe or during the district schedule, all-comers had been turned away dating back to late in 2015.
The Pottsboro Cardinals were a part of multiple entries into that group, including suffering back-to-back shutouts the past two years.
But this time proved to be different. After taking an early lead and backed by a stout defensive effort, Pottsboro went on the road to snap a streak that had reached 35 consecutive regular-season victories with a 27-14 win over Gunter.
Braden Plyler completed 15-of-17 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score and Cy Shope scored twice to pace Pottsboro (2-0), which won its first two games for the first time since 2015. Gunter (1-1) had been there to stop them in the second contest each of the previous three years but this time the tables were turned on the Tigers, who nearly had the streak ended in their opener, a 22-21 decision against Daingerfield that needed a fourth-quarter rally to continue.
Pottsboro got the ball to open the game and made it to the 13-yard line before Gunter blocked the field goal attempt. The Tigers headed the other way and made it to the Cardinal 25 before turning it over on downs.
Pottsboro needed just six plays and the help of a penalty before Plyler connected with Shope for a 63-yard touchdown to go up 7-0 with 1:54 left in the first quarter.
Gunter tried to answer back and was on the verge of tying the score when Clayton Reed had the ball knocked loose near the goal line. It popped into the air and was about to land back in Reed’s hand before Shope came racing over and snagged it for the touchback.
Plyler finished off the ensuing 80-yard possession with a nine-yard keeper with 2:53 to go in the second quarter. The point after missed and the Cardinals took a 13-0 lead into half-time.
The Tigers had a chance to cut into the deficit to open the third quarter but Hunter Fulton came up with a fumble recovery and the Cardinals cashed in on the turnover.
Gunter’s defense came up with a pair of sacks but Plyler was able to connect with Titus Lyons on a 46-yard pass to the two-yard line, where Shope carried it in for another score and a 20-0 advantage with a little more than four minutes remaining in the third.
This time Gunter answered back with Ethan Sloan returning the kickoff to the 15-yard line. A penalty backed them up to the 37-yard line but Reed would score from on the next play and the Tigers were on the board.
With four seconds remaining in the third, Gunter scored again on a two-yard carry by Mitchell Brewer and the Cardinals’ lead was down to six.
It was as close as the Tigers would get. Pottsboro pushed its lead to the final margin when Plyler connected with Lyons, who had eight catches for 153 yards, on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 9:20 to go in the contest and the Cardinals closed out the victory.
Shope finished with 65 yards on 17 carries to go with his 63-yard TD catch and Plyler added 62 yards on 23 carries.
Reed led Gunter with 72 yards on eight carries, Hudson Graham had 42 yards on seven carries, Peyton Lowe added four carries for 36 yards and Brewer chipped in five carries for 34 yards.
Gunter travels to Whitesboro on Friday while Pottsboro also hits the road with a trip to Muenster.