MIDLOTHIAN — Red Oak is beginning to run out of goals.
The Hawks had to reset their goals once they earned their first playoff berth in 23 years and now, with a 40-24 Area playoff win over Spruce, they have already checked off those three.
“We wanted to win a playoff game, reach double-digit wins for the first time in school history and play in Texas Stadium,” head coach Mike Shields said. “I’m proud of these kids and what they have accomplished.”
With Friday’s win, the Hawks move on to play West Mesquite at 7 p.m. next Saturday at Texas Stadium with the winner advancing to the regional final.
Friday’s win came in typical Red Oak fashion with a swarming defense and ball-control running game.
Red Oak held Spruce to just 14 total yards in the first half while building a 31-0 lead.
“We will keep pounding you, pounding you and pounding you,” senior Taylor McCuller said. “There are always seven to 11 guys flying to the ball. Everyone wants to be in on the play, that’s why I think the defense is so good.”
The lone turnover Red Oak’s defense forced, led to a touchdown on the last play of the half.
McCuller sacked Spruce quarterback Gabriel Rodriguez, who fumbled the ball at the 30-yard line.
Three plays later, Nic Boyd scored on a 1-yard run to give the Hawks a 31-0 lead.
“That let us step back and take a breath,” Shields said of the touchdown. “I think it took the wind out of their sails. At 24-0, I think you can talk about coming back, but 31 points is hard to make up.
“I was proud of our offense and what they did in the hurry-up. We haven’t got to work on it a lot, but they executed it well.”
The touchdown was Boyd’s second of the first half and marked the fifth time in seven possessions the Hawks had scored.
Boyd scored the game’s first touchdown with seven minutes left in the first quarter when he bounced through the Spruce defense on a 29-yard run. Ethan Wood extended the lead to 10-0 on the final play of the first quarter when he booted a 38-yard field goal.
The Hawks began to pull away in the second quarter. Just over a minute into the quarter, McCuller ran for a 56-yard touchdown. With 4:40 left in the second quarter, McCuller capped a 56-yard drive that took 4:23 off the clock when he scored from 2 yards out.
Things did not change much in the second half as Red Oak took the ball and marched 47 yards for its fifth touchdown. Quarterback Kevin Pruett did most of the damage, passing for 32 yards and getting the touchdown on a 1-yard run as the Hawks took a 37-0 lead.
Down by 37, Spruce’s offense finally got rolling midway through the third as Rodriguez competed 13 of 16 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown in the second half.
The Timberwolves scored 24 of the final 27 points, but it was not nearly enough as the Hawks held off the rally for a 40-24 win.
“This was a big win,” Shields said. “We thought that if our line took care of business they could open some holes. It took the first quarter to really get going, but they guys did a great job.”