Gunter returns to the region final
BOYD — It was a match-up of familiar foes but only one team was in a familiar situation.
The Gunter Tigers have spent the past five seasons playing in at least the region semifinals and had won 23 of their previous 25 playoff games. The City View Mustangs are in the midst of their best season ever — before last year they had never won a postseason game and now find themselves in the third round for the first time.
Standing in their way, however, was a team that had beaten them the past two seasons in district play and has designs on winning a third state championship in five years. After a pair of blowout victories to open defense of its crown, Gunter raced to another big lead early in the third quarter on the way to a 44-19 victory over City View in a Class 3A Division II Region II semifinal.
Gunter (12-1) will play Eastland (10-3), a 28-24 winner over Holliday, in the region final at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Ethan Sloan led the Tigers with 15 carries for 141 yards and three touchdowns, Ashton Bennett added 16 carries for 86 yards and a score, Hudson Graham chipped in six carries for 41 yards and a TD and also was 3-of-4 passing for 69 yards and a touchdown and Cole Lemons had a pair of catches for 54 yards and a TD.
Isaiah Marks completed 19-of-23 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns with an interception and ran 18 times for 35 yards and Devan Williams caught six passes for 86 yards and two TD passes and Robert Brooks totaled three receptions for 86 yards and a score for City View, which finished with just 47 yards on 31 carries.
Gunter opened with the ball and in three minutes scored on six plays covering 63 yards with Sloan capping the possession with his 28-yard run.
City View answered when Marks completed a seven-yard TD pass to Williams but the Mustangs trailed by a point when the PAT failed.
As the second quarter opened, Sloan scored again on a two yard run to finish off a 10-play drive.
The defense forced a punt and the Tigers put together another touchdown drive — this time it was Bennett ending it with a two-yard run with 4:21 remaining in the first half.
Cooper Wade’s interception gave the ball back to Gunter and Graham would hit Lemons for a 39-yard touchdown with 1:20 to go in the second quarter and the Tigers carried that 27-6 advantage into the locker room.
City View had a chance to make it a manageable deficit as Mustangs opened the second half with the ball.
But Bennett came up with a fumble recovery and Gunter cashed in on the turnover.
Sloan punched it in from the one-yard line and it a was 34-6 margin just minutes into the third quarter.
Marks found Williams for an 11-yard touchdown but the onside kick failed as Gunter recovered at midfield.
The Tigers couldn’t do anything with the possession but City View was pinned deep after the punt and Bennett sacked Marks in the end zone for a safety that have Gunter a 36-12 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
Less than a minute into the fourth, Graham scored on a two-yard run and added the two-point conversion to widen the margin.
City View got to the Gunter six before the Tigers kept them out of the end zone. The Mustangs were able to add one final touchdown, a 75-yard pass from Marks to Brooks with 3:16 remaining in the game.
Class 3A Division II Region II
City View 19