By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
A four-touchdown, two field-goal first half propelled the Red Oak Hawks past Everman in their 5A Division II bi-district championship Friday night.
Red Oak ultimately amassed a whopping 556 total yards of offense during the 55-24 victory at Billy Goodloe Stadium. The Hawk defense, on the flip side, limited the Everman Bulldogs to just 247 total yards and forced two turnovers.
CJ Palmer led the Red Oak offense with 19 carries for 204 yards and three touchdowns.
The senior running back scored two of his three touchdowns in the first quarter from 8 yards (7:09) and 1-yard (2:03) out for a 14-0 Red Oak lead.
He later capped a four-play, 15-yard drive — which was set up by a Carter Lincoln fumble return for five yards — with a 3-yard touchdown run to put Red Oak up, 31-7, with 3:58 to play in the first half.
Dakota Santos drilled all four of his extra-point attempts in the half, while also adding a 20- and 39-yard field goal. Both of those kicks sandwiched the third Palmer rushing touchdown of the half and came after quarterback Joshua Ervin connected with Tristan Edwards for a 36-yard score with 11:08 to play in the second quarter.
Red Oak then quickly built on its 34-7 halftime lead when Ervin found LaKelsey Johnson for a 61-yard pitch-and-catch on the Hawks third play of the third quarter. Santos split the uprights on the extra-point attempt and put the Hawks comfortably ahead, 41-7, with 9:12 showing on the third-quarter clock.
Following a pair of Bulldog touchdowns, Raymond Gay II caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Ervin early in the fourth quarter to put the Hawks up, 48-21. Zach Sanders then capped the scoring with a 56-yard touchdown run with 4:48 to play in the ballgame.
BY THE NUMBERS
Ervin finished the game 19-of-22 passing for 268 yards and three touchdowns.
Coby Cavil led all wideouts with eight catches for 101 yards, while Johnson (2-71), Gay (6-53) and Edwards (3-43) each hauled in an Ervin touchdown pass.
In addition to Palmer’s game-best 204 rushing yards, Sanders added eight carries for 74 yards (TD) and Keyshawn Merritt had three carries for 12 yards.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Hawks last won a playoff game in 2012 — a pair of wins against Corsicana and Sherman before being ousted by Frisco Centennial. That Red Oak team finished the season with a 9-4 record and share of the District 15-4A crown.
This Hawk team, however, has already hit the 10-win mark, which is something that Red Oak has not accomplished since 2007 (10-3).
Both of the 2012 and 2007 achievements came under longtime head coach Mike Shields.
Red Oak entered the postseason as the seventh-ranked team in the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football 5A Division II poll.
Red Oak will now face Denton Braswell, a foe that defeated the Hawks in a week-one headscratcher, 48-27.
Braswell reached the area round of the 5A Division II playoffs by defeating Corsicana, 49-28.
The day, time and location are still to be determined.
The winner will then very likely face top-ranked Aledo in the regional championship.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith