ENNIS — Some trains always run on time. And so far, there’s been nothing that’s kept the E-Train from chugging down the postseason tracks.
Quarterback Collin Drake rushed for a pair of first-half touchdowns, and Ennis’ defense put up a goal-line stand in the final minutes of the game as the Lions edged Burleson Centennial, 17-13, at Lion Memorial Stadium on Friday night in the area round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
Drake finished 11-of-18 for 137 yards with one interception, and carried 21 times for 78 yards and the two scores. Laylon Spencer caught five passes for 87 yards.
Ennis (11-1) will take on Frisco High at 1 p.m. on Friday at Mesquite Memorial Stadium in the Region II semifinals. The Raccoons shut out South Oak Cliff on Friday night, 18-0, handing the Golden Bears their first whitewash in 11 years.
Centennial drove as close as the Ennis 2-yard line with less than two minutes left, but the Lions forced a turnover on downs. Ennis was then able to run out the clock after a 15-yard personal foul penalty resulted in an automatic first down.
The Lions emerged from a seesaw first half with a 1-point lead, a missed Centennial PAT the difference. The Spartans scored first, then took a 13-7 edge late in the first quarter. But each time, the Lions answered with drives of 71 and 79 yards respectively, each capped by short Drake keepers.
Angel Aguilar added a 28-yard field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter to add to the Lions’ advantage.
On Saturday night, Red Oak (10-1) will take on Denton Braswell at AT&T Stadium in Arlington to wrap up the week for Ellis County teams. The Red Oak-Braswell winner will meet the Ennis-Frisco winner in the Region II championship game.
Class 4A Division I
Heritage 26, Navasota 14
WACO — A pair of defensive touchdowns gave Midlothian Heritage a huge spark on Friday night as the Jaguars overcame some offensive struggles and prevailed in an area-round victory at Midway High School.
Jay Wilkerson returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to put the Jags on the board after a 7-0 halftime deficit. Late in the game, Konner Jones scooped and scored from 45 yards out with 1:49 left to put a bow on the win. Travis Buckley’s fumble recovery in the final minute removed all doubt.
Cullen Stone finished with 12 carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard run that gave the Jags their first lead of the night. Cade Sumbler attempted just 12 passes all night, completing seven for 53 yards.
The Jags (8-4) will return to Midway to play Palestine in the Region III semifinals on Black Friday at 2:30 p.m. Palestine beat Huffman Hargrave, 19-14. Heritage has yet to fail to reach the third playoff round in their four-year varsity football history.
Last year, Heritage dominated the Rattlers, 49-9, but tis year was a different story. The Jags were outgained 308 yards to 182 and managed just 11 first downs to Navasota’s 17. But the Jags played turnover-free football and limited their penalties to three for 25 yards.
Class 3A Division II
Holliday 17, Palmer 14
MINERAL WELLS — Palmer’s dream season came to a disappointing end as Holliday held on to win on Friday night in the Region II area round.
The Bulldogs scored in the final minute, but the Eagles covered the onside kick attempt and ran out the clock, ending Palmer’s year at 11-1.
Holliday took advantage of a roughing-the-punter penalty early in the fourth quarter, keeping alive an 85-yard drive that was closed out with Tristin Boyd’s 25-yard touchdown run which made it 17-7.
Palmer quarterback Adrian Cisneros threw for 184 yards and a touchdown, although he completed only 18 of 38 attempts. He also rushed for 56 yards and a TD which cut Holliday’s lead to 10-6 with 2:45 left in the third quarter.
Holliday (9-3) moves on and will play Lexington, which beat Wichita Falls City View 28-7, in the Region II semifinals on Friday at 6 p.m. in Burleson.
It’s the second straight year the Eagles have beaten an undefeated team at Rams Stadium in the area round. Last year, Holliday edged Clifton 24-21 in overtime.
Class 2A Division I
Valley View 41, Italy 20
SAGINAW — The Gladiators tried to climb the mountain in the second half, but the slope was too steep as Valley View erupted in the second quarter to take a 31-6 halftime lead and coasted to the area-round win at Roughrider Stadium.
Italy finishes the year with a final mark of 8-4.
The Gladiators kept the game scoreless until the final minute of the first quarter, when Valley View’s Luis Morales broke a 67-yard touchdown run.
Although Italy pulled back to within 7-6 on a 5-yard Jaiden Barr touchdown run, the floodgates were open for the Eagles, who scored on a long TD pass, a blocked punt return, a rushing TD and a 23-yard field goal to take a 25-point halftime advantage.
Jayden Saxon passed to Kort Holley and Colt Horn for Italy touchdowns in the second half.
Valley View (10-2) will face Crawford in the Region II semifinals next weekend. Crawford (9-3) dispatched Honey Grove on Friday night, 35-18.
Class 1A Division I
Saint Jo 52, Avalon 22
ALEDO — A record-setting year for the Eagles came to a close on Friday night with a loss to Saint Jo in an area-round clash at Aledo Junior High.
The Eagles finish 11-1, but set a new school high-water mark for victories in a season.
The Eagles stayed within 14-10 through one quarter of play, but the offense went cold for the next two quarters as the Panthers led 30-10 at the half and 38-10 at the end of three quarters.
Saint Jo (11-1) will play Blum in the Region III finals next weekend. Blum (10-2) defeated Union Hill on Friday night, 36-16.