By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Two career days and three second-half interceptions sealed the revenge and record-setting win for the Red Oak Hawks on Saturday in the 5A Division II area championship.
Paced by 450 yards of total offense, No. 7 (11-1) Red Oak carried a three-touchdown lead into the halftime locker room against (8-3) Denton Braswell and held on late for the 35-30 round two playoff victory at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Red Oak quarterback Joshua Ervin stole the show in the first half, passing for 336 yards and three touchdowns. The first of those scores went to Coby Cavil for a 99-yard touchdown to put Red Oak on top, 14-0, with 11:35 to play in the second quarter.
Cavil then pulled in a nifty 58-yard touchdown pass from Ervin seven-minutes-and-change later to put the Hawks up 21-0. He finished the game with a career-high 241 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches (34.4 YPC).
Cavil surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving plateau with his career-best performance. He now has 1,206 yards and 16 touchdowns on 58 receptions for the year.
Following a Braswell score on its ensuing drive, Ervin found Raymond Gay II (5-105) for a 59-yard Red Oak touchdown with 11 seconds remaining in the first half. The extra-point kick by Dakota Santos was true and sent the Hawks into the locker room with a comfortable 28-7 lead.
The Hawk defense then did its part to continue the dominant start in the second half, forcing a Braswell punt and interception to set up the fourth Ervin touchdown pass of the evening.
The junior quarterback capped a four-play, 27-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to LaKelsey Johnson (2-34) with 2:29 to play in the third quarter. The completion came after Ervin was sacked for a 6-yard loss and put the Hawks up 35-7.
Ervin finished the game with 381 yards and four touchdowns on 14-of-23 passing. He now has 2,533 passing yards and 38 touchdowns to just four interceptions on the season.
And, at the time of the fourth Ervin touchdown, the lead seemed comfortable.
The Braswell offense scored twice over the ensuing one-minute and three seconds of game time, thanks largely to a successful onside kick.
Ifesimi Yessuff scored the first Bengal touchdown with a 48-yard run. Following the onside kick recovery, Greyson Thompson completed a 30-yard pass to Cam Smith to pull Braswell within two scores, 35-21, with 1:26 showing on the third-quarter clock.
The Red Oak offense then stalled on its ensuing possession and punted just after crossing midfield.
Braswell running back Tristan McClary capitalized on the newfound Bengal momentum and capped an eight-play, 74-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. His score and Arturo Ramirez extra-point cut the Red Oak lead to 35-28 with 8:27 to play in the fourth quarter.
The Hawk offense proceeded to punt on its next two possessions, while the defensive unit forced the Bengals to turn the football over on downs.
But Braswell remained pesky and used a 62-yard completion from Thompson to Jacob Hernandez to move inside the Red Oak 10-yard line. Two plays later, Red Oak defensive back Donovan Jemerson intercepted a Thompson pass and was tackled down at the 1-yard line.
Any momentum gained from the interception went back to Braswell on the next snap, as running back CJ Palmer (25-79, TD) was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
The exchange left the Hawks up 35-30 with 1:14 to play in regulation. It also forced the Hawks to kickoff to the Bengals, who now had an opportunity to steal a late win.
With Braswell facing a fourth-and-9 deep in its territory, Jemerson snatched his second interception of the game to seal the 35-30 Red Oak victory.
The win, which is the 11th of the season for the Hawks, set a new program record for wins in a season. The previous high of 10 victories was last reached in 2007.
The Hawks have also now won 11 consecutive games after falling to Braswell in the season-opener, 48-27.
Red Oak advanced to the 5A DII regional semifinal and will now face top-ranked (11-1) Aledo at 7 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
The Bearcats are without all-everything running back Jase McClellan, as the Oklahoma-commit suffered a fractured wrist in Aledo’s season opener against Colleyville Heritage.