By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
RED OAK — Homecoming night did not quite go according to plan in Red Oak following the crowning of the king and queen.
Red Oak (1-6, 1-3 in 4-5A) entered Billy Goodloe Stadium with an opportunity to reassert itself into the 5A playoff picture. The Hawks have, after all, been a deep-run contender for each of the past three seasons.
Midlothian had other plans.
The Panthers gained all of their 337 yards on the ground, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. That yardage total came just 8 yards shy of outpacing the entire Red Oak attack (345).
Deago Benson continued his torrid rushing pace with 27 carries for 188 yards and three touchdowns. The junior running back now has 713 yards and eight touchdowns on 109 carries for the Panthers.
Midlothian improved to 4-3 on the season and, more importantly, 3-1 in district play with the victory. The Panthers are firmly in the driver’s seat for one of four 4-5A playoff spots with three games to play. They will lock into a spot with two wins over their final three games, or one win and one loss by Red Oak, Burleson Centennial, Birdville and Mansfield Legacy.
On the other hand, Red Oak needs to win out to snag the fourth seed in the 4-5A standings. Anything short of three wins over the Hawks’ final three games will result in chance.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Midlothian and Red Oak entered the halftime locker rooms at Billy Goodloe Stadium knotted at 14, following a half that saw two completely opposite offensive approaches.
The Panthers rushed 22 times for 150 yards in the first half, which accounted for their entire offensive output. Benson led all ball carriers with nine rushes for 103 yards and two touchdowns before the break.
Midlothian committed the lone first-half turnover when Chad Ragle (0-5, 0yds) was picked off in the second quarter. Oddly enough, that would be the lone Midlothian pass caught by any player on the evening.
As for Red Oak, the Hawks scored both of their touchdowns in the second quarter on carries by quarterback Jaylon Robinson (10-27) and running back Christopher Martinez (5-8).
Those two runs came after Midlothian opened the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run by Deago Benson with 5:58 to play in the first quarter.
Robinson also completed 8-of-his-14 first-half passes for 120 yards with Warren Roberson (4-56), Jace Wyatt (7-70) and La’kelsey Johnson Jr (3-63) on the receiving end of those completions.
The trio helped the Red Oak passing game pick up 152 yards through the air in the second half, with Wyatt pulling down a 19-yard fourth-quarter touchdown. Robinson ultimately finished the game 18-of-29 passing for 272 yards and added 16 carries for 60 yards.
It was also that fourth-quarter score that gave the Hawks a little life. Midlothian had opened the second half with a pair of touchdown runs by Jordon Richburg (6 yards) and Kaden Smith to take a two-score lead.
Despite the lack of offense, Red Oak placekicker Josh Jimenez split the uprights to pull the Hawks within a single score, 28-21, as the game turned toward the final six minutes.
The Panthers quickly responded with yet another Benson touchdown run — his third, this time from 1-yard out. Tylor Knighton then recovered a Red Oak fumble in the end zone. The two scores put Midlothian comfortably on top, 42-21.
Robinson ultimately added a second rushing touchdown to close out the 42-27 Panther win.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football computer rankings listed Midlothian 27th and Red Oak 44th out of 129 Class 5A Division I programs.
Red Oak will face (4-3, 3-1) Mansfield Summit at Vernon Newsom Stadium. Midlothian will host (1-6, 1-3) Mansfield Legacy at Midlothian ISD Multipurpose Stadium.
Both games are slated to kick off at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22.
All photos by Kirk Holt/KBEC Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith