GARLAND - Surrounded by a pair of fleet-footed running backs, a couple sizable receivers and an experienced front, Red Oak quarterback Austin VanHove isn’t asked to be a world-beater.
It was his ability to manage an offense that won him the starting job this fall. Nothing more, nothing less.
In the Hawks’ 37-6 dispatching of North Garland on Thursday night, however, VanHove showed he can carry on offense, too.
The 6-foot junior completed his first seven passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns before finishing the night going 9-for-15 for 223 yards and also had a pair of lengthy carries in the rout.
“It felt good,” VanHove said. “The linemen had a lot to do with it and the receivers ran their routes.Our coaches called the right plays and we were able to over the top of the safeties.”
The Hawks, who handled the same 5A club 31-0 a year ago, were fluent from jump street, going to running backs Cameron Bausley and Charles Crosby early.
Once the two backs – who combined for 178 yards on the ground – made the Raiders’ defense honest, getting over the top of North Garland’s defense wasn’t a chore.
“We went through a lot of young kids,” Red Oak coach Mike Shields said. “But we started a lot of young kids, a lot who did well in their first varsity game.”
Red Oak scored on its first drives, forced five turnovers and essentially controlled the line of scrimmage but for all of two minutes, the Hawks made youthful mistakes.
After forcing the Raiders to punt on the game’s opening drive, Red Oak muffed the kick deep in its own territory. Six players later, North Garland had a 6-0 lead.
From there, the 4A visitors hit their stride.
Bausley scored from 14 yards out on Red Oak’s methodical first drive. After that, it was turnovers that kept the Hawks’ offense on the field.
VanHove’s 13-yard endzone hookup with Jeremiah Gaines and two lengthy touchdown receptions by Marquise McNeal – one of 51 yards and the other 73 – were all in the third quarter and each were a product of a turnover.
Red Oak, which led 27-6 at half, tallied two picks and three fumble recoveries all while coming up with five sacks.
“(Defensive coordinator) Hank Hollywood really emphasizes turnovers,” Shields said. “So that was pretty big.”
In the second half, though, Red Oak was stagnant. The offense that moved the chains regularly in the first half sputtered. Outside of Crosby’s 18-yard touchdown scamper, things weren’t aesthetically pleasing to Shields the Hawks’ contingent.
“We played real well in the first half,” Shields said. “Then we got sloppy. We have a ways to go still.”
Red Oak 7 20 7 3 – 37
N. Garland 6 0 0 0 – 6