By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
ROYSE CITY — The Ennis Lions unofficially locked up the District 8-5A title Friday behind a program-record rushing performance.
The fourth-ranked (9-0, 6-0) Lions used over 650 total yards of offense to hand (8-1, 5-1) Royse City its first loss in a rather convincing fashion, 48-20.
Dee Johnson stole the show with 23 carries for a program-record 305 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson had just 10 carries for 75 yards in the first half against the Bulldogs. He then rushed 13 times for 230 yards and three touchdowns in the second half for a whopping 17.7 yards-per-carry.
Johnson sandwiched his first two touchdowns around a Bulldog rushing score with 6:49 to play in the third quarter. The second touchdown run came with 3:49 to play in the third quarter when Johnson broke free for a 77-yard score. The scamper put the Lions comfortably ahead, 33-13.
Johnson added a third touchdown from 24 yards out to cap the Lion scoring and seal the 48-20 win.
As a team, the Ennis offense outgained Royse City 654 total yards to 348, which included 31 first downs to 20. The Lions averaged better than 9.6 yards per play on their 68 snaps from scrimmage.
Devion Beasley also scored three rushing touchdowns on nine carries for 60 yards. He recorded two of those rushing scores on four carries for 31 yards in the first half.
Julio Dominguez (5-43) and Gracen Harris (3-40) also helped the Lions to 474 rushing in the win.
Ennis quarterback Jackson Gilkey completed 9-of-his-14 passes for 128 yards in the first half. The junior ended the game 12-of-23 for 180 yards and one 52-yard first-quarter touchdown pass to TT Cox.
Gracen Harris and Skylan Simmons each had four catches for 47 and 29 yards, respectively.
Cox led all Ennis receivers with 2 grabs for 94 yards, while freshman Gracen Harris finished with five catches for 51 yards and Sylan Simmons had five for 35.
Ennis led just 20-6 at the half and had outpaced the Bulldogs 238 total yards to 152. The Lions then scored twice in both the third and fourth quarters to double-up Royse City in the second half.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football computer projections listed Ennis as a 15-point favorite.
Ennis had already officially clinched a playoff berth with a 31-7 road victory against (5-3, 4-1) Forney in week 9.
The Lions, who are technically in a three-way tie record-wise with Royse City and Forney, will win yet another outright district title with a victory Friday against (6-3, 3-3) Corsicana. The rivalry game is slated for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Lion Memorial Stadium.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith