Mineral Wells Area News

Gordon wins area title, sets up quarterfinals rematch with Abbott

Gordon wins area title, sets up quarterfinals rematch with Abbott
November 19
12:11 2023
The Gordon Longhorns pose with the Region III area trophy they earned after defeating Milford, 83-34, Thursday night in Dublin. The Horns face Abbott in the regional quarterfinals Friday in Burleson.


Special to Mineral Wells Area News

DUBLIN – A quick-strike offense and a lockdown second-half defense keyed the top-ranked Class 1A-1 Gordon Longhorns to an 83-34 win Thursday over the Milford Bulldogs to claim an area crown.

The win sets up a rematch of last year’s regional quarterfinals game between Gordon and Abbott, set for 6 p.m. Friday in Burleson. Abbott took a hard-fought 32-24 quarterfinals win over Gordon last year, the only game the Longhorns (12-0) have lost the last two seasons. The Panthers went on to play in the state championship game, losing to Westbrook.

Abbott advanced after Friday’s win over Union Hill, 50-16. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football ranks Gordon number one in Texas Class 1A-1 sixman football, with the 12-0 Panthers ranked third.

Gordon head coach Mike Reed was asked if next Friday’s game is one the team has been hoping for, a chance to extract revenge for last year’s loss. 

“We have opponents we know we have to go through,” Reed said. “Milford was one we really weren’t sure about, and who would come out of that side (of the bracket). … We haven’t looked ahead at all. We are just kind of ready for the next game.”

The Horns on Thursday night scored nine offensive touchdowns on just 25 plays and added two defensive scores on fumble returns. Gordon rang up 367 total yards on offense – 266 rushing and 101 passing.

An athletic and experienced Milford team put up some numbers of their own. The Bulldogs ran 62 offensive plays, totaling 360 yards – evenly balanced by 180 yards rushing and passing – on their way to five touchdowns on the night.

The Bulldogs scored twice in the first quarter, and twice again in the second, in what was an early seesaw affair.

Coach Reed said he knew Milford would score and challenge the Horns defense.

“It’s playoff football,” Reed said. “It’s a chess match. Just making those adjustments and things like that. Our kids are football savvy and understand what is going on.”

He credited Milford for their effort and talent.

“They have state track speed, and it showed,” Reed said. “They have a lot of seniors. Anytime you get late into the last of season you are going to get everybody’s last hoorah. They are a good football team. They put a lot of points on people all year, so we knew how explosive and dynamic they could be.”

Reed said the team made some halftime adjustments defensively to counter what Milford was doing successfully in the first half. Those changes worked. Milford scored on its first third-quarter possession, then was held scoreless the rest of the game.

“They are really the first spread team we have seen this year,” said Reed. “Trying to get used to that speed and that style of offense when it is not something we have seen for 11 weeks, it’s just taking your eyes to get used to that.”

Freshman speedster Riley Reed led the Longhorns offense with five touchdowns – four rushing and one receiving – to help the Horns exert their will on the Bulldogs (9-3) and gradually pull away. Reed ran for 138 yards on eight carries, a 17.25 ypc average. His rushing counterpart, Stryker Reed, ran for 127 yards on seven totes (18.1 ypc) with two touchdowns.

Milford opened strong, scoring on the game’s first possession to cap a five-play 60-yard drive ending on a 38-yard run.

Gordon needed just three plays to take their first lead. Freshman back Stryker Reed peeled off a 27-yard run on second down, followed by a 20-yard run by Riley Reed to put Gordon on top 8-6.

The Bulldogs responded with a touchdown drive to go back on top, 12-8, late in the first quarter.

That lead last 13 seconds. Gordon’s Aiden shank fielded the onside kick attempt, returning it to Milford’s 29 yard line. On first down, Stryker Reed found Juan Cabrera alone in the middle of the field, connecting with him for a touchdown to give Gordon a 16-12 advantage.

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The game began to turn on Milford’s next possession. On fourth-and-seven from their own 26, a fumble was scooped up at the 12 by Kaden Crowe and returned for a touchdown and what became a 24-12 lead. Gordon began to take control of the game.

Now in the second quarter, Milford turned the ball over on downs, and Gordon needed just three plays to go 65 yards, with the last 45 of those by Riley Reed, who took a pitch from Noah Kostiha and raced to the end zone and a 32-12 lead.

Milford answered with a fourth-down, 33-yard run for a score to make it 32-20 midway through the quarter.

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Gordon needed just to plays to find the end zone for the fifth time. Senior quarterback Whit Fuller pitched to Stryker Reed, who ran toward the middle of the line before cutting quickly left and down the sideline 45 yards to put Gordon up 39-20 after a successful point-after pass from Reed to Crowe.

The Bulldogs answered yet again, mounting an eight-play, 44-yard drive and overcoming a holding call to score from 8 yards out to make it a 39-26 contest with 1:21 until halftime.

That was more than enough time on the clock for Gordon as the Reeds took turns moving the ball to Milford’s 2, where Riley Reed finished off the drive with his third score of the half, sending the teams to intermission with Gordon leading 47-26.

The third quarter opened with Gordon taking possession at its 37 after recovering an onside kick attempt. Brayden Walters ran for 27 yards on second down, setting up Stryker Reed’s third score from 10 yards out to stake the Horns to a 55-26 lead.

Milford’s last score of the contest came next on a fourth-and-goal scoring toss to make it a 55-34 affair.

Gordon took over at Milford’s 38, and on first down Riley Reed outraced Milford’s defenders to the end zone to rebuild the lead to 63-34.

The Horns defense came up big on the next series, with consecutive sacks that left Milford facing fourth-and-33 from its own 33. The Bulldogs turned the ball over on a pass incompletion, Gordon up at Milford’s 33. On first down from the Bulldogs 10, Kostiha’s pass to Riley Reed hit paydirt to put the Horns up 71-34.

Kostiha, a sophomore, had a good night as well, going four-of-five passing for 53 yards with the touchdown.

Gordon’s defense again held Milford, giving the offense the ball at the Bulldogs’ 32. Kostiha’s pass completion to Walters ended at the Bulldogs’ 1 yard line. Fuller finished it off for the score with 1:32 left in the third. Gordon had a chance to end the game, but the PAT try failed, making it 77-34 – two points shy of the sixman 45-point mercy rule.

Early in the fourth quarter, a fourth-down play by Milford resulted in a fumble scoop-and-score by Cabrera from 20 yards out for the final 83-34 score.

With his offensive and defensive scores, Cabrera also converted eight point-after kicks, accounting for 28 of Gordon’s points on the night. His booming kickoffs also prevented a chance of returns most of the night.


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