By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
RED OAK — The football season was supposed to open at Billy Goodloe Stadium in Red Oak with a nailbiter between two state-ranked foes. It was instead a headscratcher for the host No. 9 Red Oak Hawks, as No. 1 Ennis ran away with a 52-21 road victory.
The Lions dominated from the opening kick until the final whistle. They were bigger, faster and more polished. Red Oak fans should take solace in the fact that it was only week one and that a long season lays ahead.
Ennis ultimately racked up 609 total yards of offense behind 435 yards on the ground. The Lions carried a 31-0 lead into the halftime locker room and never relinquished.
“Putting that zero on there at halftime was huge,” Ennis head coach Sam Harrell said. “We were very impressed with the defense and we have felt very good about our defense for, well, I’d like to say all year, but…we have been practicing though. We knew we’d be pretty good on defense because our offense has to go against them every day and going against them isn’t easy. It’s a solid defense and they play with a lot of confidence, just like they did tonight. I’m really proud of them.”
Dee Johnson (12-150, TD) and Devion Beasley (9-131, 3 TDs) accounted for 281 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Senior quarterback Collin Drake added 10 carries for 91 yards and one touchdown to his 14-of-21 passing for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
The Lion offense did not turn the football over, while the Hawks coughed the ball up twice.
Sophomore quarterback Chris Parson led the Red Oak offense completed 12-of-his-14 passes for 139 yards and one touchdown. He also added 13 carries for 30 yards. Zach Sanders led the Hawks’ ground attack with 21 totes for 91 yards and a pair of scores.
Due to scheduling worries, Friday was also Senior Night for Red Oak ISD.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Despite two holding penalties, the Lions opened the season with an impressive 12-play, 60-yard drive. Beasley capped the opening series with a 16-yard touchdown run and Angel Aguilar split the uprights on the extra-point attempt.
Beasely again found paydirt on the Lions’ ensuing drive and following a Red Oak punt. Ennis needed just six plays this time before the senior running back scampered home from 28 yards out for a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Aguilar later added a 34-yard field goal to start the Lions scoring in the second quarter. Johnson then scored from 30 yards out a little later in the frame to put the Lions on top, 24-0.
With Parson in at quarterback, the Hawk offense drove down the field and inside the Lions’ 10-yard line on its final drive of the first half.
A possible bit of confusion on third-and-goal resulted in a short gain. Parson then used quite a bit of nifty footwork on fourth-and-goal to escape to his left, only to have the turf monster trip him up just outside the left hash. The sophomore had a receiver wide open in the back of the end zone with 44 seconds to play.
Unfortunately for Red Oak, the Ennis offense had no intention of kneeling out the clock.
De’ivian Johnson began the drive with a 46-yard rush across midfield.
Four plays later, Drake capped the drive with a 34-yard bomb to Skylan Simmons (5-53) in the right corner of the end zone for yet another Lion touchdown. Simmons had to go up and over a Red Oak defender and helped the Lions into the locker room with a 31-0 lead.
Ennis outgained Red Oak 373 yards to 72 in the opening half, including 17 first downs gained to three.
Johnson led the Lions’ offensive attack with 12 carries for 150 yards and one score, while Beasley accounted for two touchdowns on six carries for 87 yards.
Drake completed 8-of-his-13 passes for 87 yards and the lone touchdown pass to Simmons.
As for Red Oak, Sanders led the ground game with eight carries for 30 yards. Parson and Ervin combined to go 4-of-5 through the air for 36 yards.
And that was about it.
Red Oak made things a little exciting late in the third quarter and into the early part of the fourth quarter to cut the Ennis lead to 45-21. The Hawks even came close to recovering a pair of onside kicks.
Ennis was just too physical, too fast and too much for the Hawks on Friday. There is, however, a lot of football left to be played — and for that, we can all be thankful.
No. 1 (1-0) Ennis was slated to face Keller Fossil Ridge in week two but has since seen that game canceled with no plans to postpone or fill the week. The Lions will, instead, return to action Oct. 9 at home against (1-0) Waxahachie in the 99th rendition of the Battle of 287. The all-time record between the Indians and Lions is knotted at 47-47-2.
No. 9 (0-1) Red Oak will look to bounce-back on the road against Mansfield Timberview on Friday, Oct. 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
All photos by KBEC Sports photojournalist Fred Phipps
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith