CORSICANA — A ferocious defense forced Rogers into four first-half turnovers, which led to four Tigers touchdowns, as Gunter made its way to its fourth straight regional final by beating Rogers, 47-14, in a Class 3A Division II Region II semifinal.
“It was great we got off to a fast start,” Gunter head football coach Jake Fieszel said. “We work special situations every Wednesday and I'm proud of the way the kids came out and executed today.”
Overall Gunter forced six turnovers in the game and scored five times off the miscues by the Eagles.
The Tigers (12-1), who are the three-time defending region champs, play Holliday (10-3) in the Region II final at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Wichita Falls. It is the second straight year the district rivals will meet in the fourth round and the third straight season they square off in the postseason.
Clayton Reed had 13 carries for 80 yards and a touchdowns to go with four catches for 97 yards and a TD, Bryson Rigsby also finished with 13 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns and Hudson Graham completed 4-of-7 passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score for Gunter.
The Tigers defense continuously put their offense in good position in the first half as the Eagles (11-2) didn't complete a pass, managed just one first down and gained 32 yards before the break. On those turnovers, Gunter took full advantage of its field position by starting drives at the Eagles 32, 35, 33 and 34 yard lines.
Gunter scored on its first offensive possession when Rigsby capped off an eight-play drive with a 19-yard touchdown run.
On Rogers' next offensive possession, Cole Lemons stepped in front of a Heath Schiller pass, giving the Tigers possession on the Rogers 32-yard line following the interception.
Nine plays later, Graham plowed through the line for a one-yard touchdown and a 12-0 Tigers lead.
On Rogers' ensuing possession, Reed made an acrobatic interception that gave Gunter the ball on the Rogers 35-yard line.
Reed capped off the scoring drive by catching a 10-yard touchdown pass from Graham for a 19-0 lead with 9:49 left in the second quarter. Reed finished the game with three touchdowns, including a 54-yard catch and run in the third quarter.
A Rogers fumble led to another Rigsby touchdown run, this time from six yards out, and a 26-0 Tigers lead.
Gunter closed out its first half scoring after Rigsby recovered a fumble, which led to Reed's second touchdown of the game — a seven-yard run with 1:56 remaining in the half.
In the third quarter, the Tigers defense continued to harass Schiller, who then left the game after suffering a leg injury. The defense also scored a touchdown when linebacker Peyton Lowe recovered a fumble and returned it 30 yards for the touchdown, giving the Tigers a 47-7 lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
Rogers scored two second-half touchdowns. Brady Sisneroz grabbed a seven-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Riley Dolgener with 1:45 to go in the third quarter.
Eagles running back Christian Riley had the game's final touchdown and the only scoring in the fourth quarter on a 12-yard run with 5:44 left.
Riley led the Eagles with 67 yards on 10 carries. Dolgener finished 7-of-10 passing for 54 yards and one interception and Christian Watkins totaled four catches for 26 yards as Rogers ended with 189 total yards.