By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Special teams and defensive touchdowns late in the fourth quarter sealed a district victory for Red Oak against a pesky Richland team on Friday.
Though (2-1, 2-0) Red Oak dominated the first half and gained over 550 total yards of offense, (3-2, 0-2) Richland was able to creep back into the District 4-5A contest in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Hawks led by as many as 19 points on three different occasions (29-10, 36-17, 43-24) in the second half at Billy Goodloe Stadium. But the Royals refused to go down quietly, ultimately pulling within three, 43-40, after a 13-play, 48-yard drive ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by Marcos Pina-Jackson with 2:02 to play in the fourth quarter.
Richland then attempted an onside kick, only to have Red Oak’s Jaylyn Bennett scoop the ball and return the pigskin 50 yards for a touchdown. The returned kickoff put Red Oak ahead by two scores, 49-40, as the clock dipped under two minutes to play.
Red Oak linebacker Darius Jackson intercepted a Richland pass on the Royals ensuing drive and sprinted across the goal line for a 40-yard touchdown. Dakota Santos split the uprights on the extra-point attempt and sealed the 56-40 Red Oak win with 1:02 showing on the fourth-quarter clock.
“The football gods were in our favor a little bit,” said Red Oak head football coach Michael Quintero. “I was proud of the kids for responding. We could’ve let the wheels fall off. But, the kids responded and made the plays when we had to have them.”
Red Oak senior quarterback Joshua Ervin told KBEC Sports that he thought the Hawks played well, but need to focus on their second-half approach and intensity.
“We started out strong and that was a key emphasis for us,” said Ervin, who finished 10-of-15 passing for 216 yards and three touchdowns. “And something we preach all of the time is finishing fast and finishing hard. Luckily, we made some plays there at the end. We have a lot of guys who don’t give up. We just have to finish in the second half.”
Ervin tossed all three of his touchdown passes to senior Raymond Gay (6-179). Kentrell Anderson (3-27) and La’Kelsey Jonhson (2-13) also finished with multiple catches for the Hawks.
Senior running back Zach Sanders paced the Red Oak backfield with 22 carries for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Chris Parson added six carries for 23 yards and a touchdown, as well.
Red Oak ultimately outgained Richland 553 total yards to 470, with 323 of those offensive yards coming on the ground.
“I think we did some really good things and that was the most physical game that we have played,” Quintero added. “We just have to mature into a second-half team and finish the way we start., We didn’t do that and we have a lot to get better at, but I thought the kids played hard and I don’t think they ever let up. We just have to learn to finish.”
“[…] I thought we got a little sloppy in the second half and let them get back into the game. We had chances to put them away but just couldn’t make the plays when we needed to. I’m proud of the kids and I thought we were more physical than they (Richland) were and that was pretty much the entire game. We just have to clean things up and eliminate dumb penalties.”
Red Oak returns to District 4-5A Division I action at 7 p.m. Friday against (3-0, 2-0) Colleyville Heritage.
The Panthers will enter the contest averaging 47.0 points per game and fresh off a 45-21 drubbing of Midlothian.
All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith